Neil Armstrong once again slips the surly bonds of Earth

Neil Armstrong, first human to set foot on another world, passed away today.

Astronauts Michael Collins (left), Neil Armstrong (2nd right), and Buzz Aldrin (right), with President George W. Bush on the 35th anniversary of the Moon landing in 2004.

Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 mission with Buzz Aldrin, and Ed Collins in the command module orbiting the Moon while Armstrong and Aldrin touched down on July 20, 1969:

Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong working at an equipment storage area on the lunar module. This is one of the few photos that show Armstrong during the moonwalk.

His career prior to this as a test pilot produced some legendary stories.  Including one shown in this video: He ejected with less than one second to spare before the Lunar Lander trainer crashed — two months before he left for the Moon.

Of the six American flags planted on the Moon by the Apollo missions, all are still standing today … except the one planted by Neil Armstrong.  (There is little to knock them over except the occasional stray meteorite, but the Apollo 11 flag was planted a bit too close the ship, and was knocked over by the blast when the upper stage took off.)

A random observation: The movie Men in Black III features a scene on the Moon, in which one of the old Lunar Modules is depicted.  They get it wrong: the upper stage is shown still in place. Four years ago, the movie WALL•E got it right, showing the lower stage of the Lunar Module (one of the later Apollo missions) remaining on the ground after the launch of the upper stage.  But WALL•E was always an excellent science fiction film, and Men in Black III is merely popular entertainment for young people and has its place.

The history of those who led the way to interplanetary travel, led by Neil Armstrong, deserves to be preserved accurately — and extended by those who come later. The Space Frontier Foundation is working to follow in their footsteps and open space to permanent settlement.

Rest in peace.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle