Neil Armstrong was the first person on the moon to immortalize his name in the history books of the world. Now the US astronaut, who died in 2012, would have been 90 years old. Only four men can report on the moon – and the schedule for the next trip shakes.
“It’s a small step for a human being, but a big leap for humanity,” said Neil Armstrong when he was the first human to set foot on the surface of the moon in 1969. A moment that wrote space history, burned itself into human collective memory – and made Armstrong world famous. Today, August 5th, the astronaut, revered as a visionary and respected for his modesty, would have turned 90 years old.
Armstrong died in August 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio of complications from heart surgery. “Neil was one of the greatest American heroes – not just in his time, but for all time,” President Barack Obama said at the time. “When he and his crew started the Apollo 11 in 1969, they took the longing of an entire nation with them.”
The astronaut Ulf Merbold, who was the second German to fly into space after Sigmund Jähn in 1983, described Armstrong as “the greatest in human history.” US astronaut colleague Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, praised Armstrong as “a true American.” Heroes ”and“ best pilot I knew ”.
Neil Alden Armstrong was born on August 5th, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Even as a child, he was enthusiastic about flying and obtained a pilot’s license at the age of 16 – even before the driver’s license. He studied aeronautical engineering at Purdue University, later became a naval aviator and, among other things, used in the Korean War.
In 1962 Armstrong came to the US space agency Nasa. Four years later, he completed his first space flight as commander of the “Gemini 9” space shuttle. In 1969, the then 38-year-old then headed the lunar landing mission of “Apollo 11” and steered the lunar module “Eagle”. Millions of people from all over the world sat in front of the television and watched how Armstrong set his left foot about 400,000 kilometers away from the earth in the desert-like landscape of the moon.
Armstrong walked with the Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin on the moon for around three hours. The third astronaut on the mission, Michael Collins, orbited the moon in the mother ship. “I would say the chance that we would come back to Earth was 90 percent,” Armstrong once said in one of his very rare interviews. “But the chance for a successful first landing on the moon was only 50:50.”
After landing on the moon, Armstrong ended his astronaut career, became a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati for several years, and increasingly withdrew from the public eye.
The memory of Armstrong is held up even after his death – this happened especially on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing last year. His estate was also auctioned on this occasion.
Among the more than 2,000 pieces were, among other things, letters, pins and a flag that had flown into space with Armstrong – “Pieces that make you think, pieces that make you laugh, and pieces that make you smile scratching my head in amazement, ”as son Mark Armstrong said at the time. The scuffed brown bear, with which the first man on the moon liked to cuddle in his childhood, brought in $ 3,500, for example. Armstrong himself had two sons and a daughter, who died as a child in 1962 from a brain tumor.
Of the eleven people who entered the moon after Armstrong, only four are still alive: Buzz Aldrin (90), David Scott (88), Charles Duke (85) and Harrison Schmitt (85). As the last person to date, US astronaut Eugene (Gene) Cernan, who died in 2017, left Earth’s satellite in 1972: “We are going as we came and – if God wills it – we will come back with peace and hope for all of humanity,” he said back then.
The government of US President Donald Trump has now fleshed out this return. The first woman and the next man are due to land on the moon by 2024, even if this schedule is being increasingly challenged, not least because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Until then, the view remains from Earth – and the family of moon pioneer Armstrong gave a comforting recommendation after his death: “The next time you go outside on a clear night and the moon laughs down at you, think to Neil Armstrong and wink at him. “
- EarthMoon: © sdecoret – stock.adobe.com