On July 20th, 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon and became the first human to do so. From the space age, Armstrong was an icon* that lasted through generations.
*icon = symbol
So it was with great sadness that the world said goodbye to this most courageous man on August 25th of this year, when he died from complications following surgery. He was 82 years old.
With the amazing landing of the Mars robot rover called “The Curiosity” and Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking jump, more and more people are inspired to push the limits and to dare to achieve the unthinkable.
Before Baumgartner made the jump to reach a maximum velocity of 834 miles per hour, he said:
- “Sometimes you have to be really high, to see how small you really are...”
Similarly, Neil Armstrong’s words will live forever in the hearts of the people of the world.
How It Happened
On July 20th, 1969, the moon lander “The Eagle” touched down on the surface of the moon. First, it was depressurized, then the hatch was opened; and Neil Armstrong went down the ladder, ahead of fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
The event was being broadcast live all over the world. It was estimated that 500 million people were watching.
Armstrong set his boot on the surface at 2:56 UTC on July 21, 1969. Afterwards, he spoke the immortal words:
- "That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap* for mankind."
*leap = a long or high jump
If you notice though, the word “a” is inside brackets [ ] in our quotation. You might see the same in other written texts.
This is because the original words as they were broadcast didn’t have the “a” before “man,” which makes the sentence a contradiction. Take a look:
A man = one person (Armstrong)
Man = mankind; humanity as a whole
That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. = contradictory
That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. = Ok
At first and for a long time, NASA claimed that static made the “a” less audible. Understandably, there were limits in the communications technology at that time. But after listening repeatedly to recordings, Armstrong later admitted that he must have omitted the “a.”
In his official biography, ‘First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong,’ he stated:
I would hope that history would grant me leeway for dropping the syllable and understand that it was certainly intended, even if it was not said – although it might actually have been.
Aside from his immortal words, Neil Armstrong was also known for his great character. When then American president Nixon called to congratulate him, he answered:
It’s a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations, and with interests and the curiosity and with the vision for the future.
Notice how the word “curiosity” would echo as the name of the Mars robot rover, 43 years after the moonwalk.
Enter Buzz Lightyear!
Today we have the very popular character from "Toy Story" known as Buzz Lightyear. Although not real, Buzz is made of the same stuff that makes astronauts great: a whole lot of courage and an ever-ready spirit of self-sacrifice.
|both images in this article are courtesy of stock.xchng|
As a matter of fact, the name Buzz Lightyear was inspired by Buzz Aldrin. (If you remember from our story above, he was Neil Armstrong's companion).
Buzz Lightyear is also famous for his line:
"To infinity... and beyond!"
which basically means that there are no limits.
Hope you learned something!