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How Will You Remember Neil Armstrong?

On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and his partner Buzz Aldrin made history as the first people to ever walk on the moon, and Long Island played a huge role in that.

Americans everywhere were saddened this weekend following news that Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong died Saturday as a result of complications following cardiac bypass surgery. He was 82.

On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and his partner Buzz Aldrin made history as the first people to ever walk on the moon. It was a historic event that had particular impact on Long Island since the very lunar lander that shuttled the astronauts to the moon was made on Long Island during the height of Bethpage-based aviation company Grumman's tenure in the region. Thousands of Long Islanders played a role in building the lander that Armstrong exited before uttering his famous line: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

If you were touched by the lunar mission, share your thoughts in the comment stream. And be sure to let us know if you worked at Grumman when the company was building the landers.

The following obituary for Armstrong was posted on Guardian.com:

The US astronaut Neil Armstrong secured his place in history on 20 July 1969, when, as commander of the Apollo 11 spacecraft, he was the first man to set foot on the moon, and made his famous statement: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong, who has died aged 82, was accompanied on that epic journey by Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, the pilot of the lunar landing module with the call sign Eagle, and Michael Collins, pilot of the command module with the call sign Columbia.

The crew of Apollo 11 were not chosen for the mission because they were in any way special among the elite group of test pilots who comprised the corps of American astronauts: it was simply their turn on the flight roster. If an earlier plan had succeeded, the crew of Apollo 10 would have made the first moon walk in May 1969, but because of delays in the development of the lunar module that mission became a full dress rehearsal for a lunar landing, all bar a touchdown.

Armstrong cut his teeth as an astronaut in March 1966 as commander of the Gemini 8. The mission also involved the first serious space emergency, highlighting the dangers of manned space launches when the public were beginning to take their seemingly effortless success for granted. The Gemini 8 mission was designed to perform the first docking in space by astronauts. The Soviet Union had already demonstrated automated docking of two unmanned vehicles in orbit. Armstrong and his crewmate, David Scott, were to rendezvous with a 7,000lb Agena rocket target vehicle.

They found the Agena and docked successfully, but when they tried a pre-arranged manoeuvre of the combined spacecraft it went into a spin. Armstrong disengaged from the Agena, thinking the problem was there, but the tumbling worsened. The Agena steadied but the Gemini capsule kept turning at 360 degrees a second and was in danger of colliding with the Agena.

The fault was clearly on Gemini. It was discovered later that one of 16 Gemini thruster rockets was stuck. As he was unable to stop the spacecraft turning with the main thrusters, Armstrong shut them down and brought the Gemini craft under control using a second set of 16 thrusters that were intended only to control the capsule's re-entry in to the Earth's atmosphere.

Mission Control ordered Armstrong and Scott to cut the flight short and they splashed down in a contingency recovery area in the Pacific Ocean. The drama of surviving man's first space emergency completely obscured the fact that it was on the Gemini 8 mission that the US had overtaken the Soviet Union in space technology.

Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and from a young age was fascinated with aviation, experimenting with model airplanes and a home-built wind tunnel. At 15 he began flying lessons in an Aeronca Champion, and by 16 acquired his student pilot's licence. In 1947, he enrolled at Purdue University on a Navy scholarship to pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering, but in 1949 the Navy called him to active duty in the Korean War. As a navy pilot, he flew 78 combat missions. He was shot down once and received three medals for his military service. In 1952 he returned to his studies and completed his BSc at Purdue and an MSc in aerospace engineering at the University of Southern California.

In 1955 he became a civilian research pilot at the Lewis research centre of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (Naca), the forerunner of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa). Later that year, he transferred to Naca's high-speed flight station (today, Nasa's Dryden flight research centre) at Edwards Air Force Base in California as an aeronautical research scientist, and then as a pilot. He was a test pilot on many pioneering high-speed aircraft, including the 4,000mph X-15. He flew over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders.

Armstrong was engaged in both piloting and engineering aspects of the X-15 programme from its inception. He completed the first flight in the aircraft equipped with a new self-adaptive flight control system and made seven flights in the rocket plane. In 1962 he was of the nine test pilots chosen by Nasa for its second astronaut-training programme.

Four years later Armstrong made his successful recovery of the Gemini 8 spacecraft in a situation that, if misjudged, could easily have resulted in the death of the crew. That achievement was also invaluable in helping Nasa meet the target set in May 1961 by President John F Kennedy for the USA to establish, as a national goal, a manned landing on the moon by the end of the decade.

The choice among competing techniques for achieving a moon landing still needed some intensive research and development. The method ultimately employed, of a lunar-orbit rendezvous, was influenced strongly by the experience with Gemini 8, and there was an element of poetic justice in Armstrong being at the helm again for the first manned lunar landing attempt.

On 16 July 1969, Apollo 11 blasted off for the moon. Four days later, at 4.18pm EDT (Eastern Daylight Time), the Eagle lunar lander was guided to land on a plain near the southwesten edge of the Sea of Tranquility. At 10.56pm Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the Apollo 11 lunar module and became the first human being to set foot on the moon. Twenty minutes later Buzz Aldrin joined him for two hours of ceremonies and moon-rock collecting. They unveiled a plaque and read the text to a worldwide TV audience, "Here men from the planet earth first set foot on the moon July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind."

After raising the American flag and talking to President Nixon by radiotelephone, the two astronauts took numerous photographs, carried out the lunar surface experiments assigned to the mission and collected 22kg of samples of lunar soil and rocks. All the astronauts' lunar activities were televised in black-and-white. Meanwhile, Collins continued orbiting the moon alone in the Columbia command module. Armstrong and Aldrin re-entered the lunar module and closed the hatch at 1.11am on 21 July. The Eagle took off from the moon at 1.54pm, having spent 21 hours 36 minutes on the lunar surface. It docked with Columbia at 5.35pm.

After splashdown in the Pacific on 24 July, decontamination procedures began. The astronauts were carried by helicopter to the recovery ship, USS Hornet, where they entered a mobile quarantine facility to begin a period of observation under strict quarantine conditions. The command module was recovered and also removed to the quarantine facility, and the rock samples and film were flown to Houston.

Following the moon landing and the subsequent world tours by the crew of Apollo 11, Armstrong became deputy association administrator for aeronautics, Nasa headquarters office of advanced research and technology from 1969 to 1971, when he resigned. For the next eight years he was professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati. Numerous industrial appointments followed, including New York's AIL Systems, where he was chairman from 1981 until 2001. In 1979 he was chairman of the board of Ohio's Cardwell International; from 1982 to 1992 chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation, in Virginia.

In 1985-86 he served on the National Commission on Space, a presidential committee to develop goals for a national space programme into the 21st century; and was also vice-chairman of the committee investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. During the early 1990s he presented an aviation documentary series for television entitled First Flights. Earlier this year he spoke at an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the orbiting of the Earth by the first American to do so, John Glenn.

Armstrong is survived by his second wife, Carol, and two sons from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.

Frank Mercuri August 27, 2012 at 02:19 AM
L remember the day quite vividly. I was watching TV and set up my camera to record the landing. It was an exciting evening that July. it was warm, I was excited because I wasn't exactly involved in it but had visited companies on LI who were. Although Grumman did make the luner landing Module, there were many subcontractors doing work for Grumman.I visited one company who was making the mockup of the moon's surfas for training simulation. I did record the landing and will now search my archives for the film and see if I can make it addaprable for YouTube.
Frank Mercuri August 27, 2012 at 02:23 AM
I also have a friend who was an engineer on the LEM program. Vi and I and the kids went to NASA in Houston( her sisiter lives there) and we saw the LEM and had the pleasure of shaking hands with an astronaut and got his signature autograph which is also somewhere in my archives.
lara buscatelli August 27, 2012 at 03:55 AM
My sincere condolences to Mr. Armstrong's family. We will always remember what a great man he is. I will always remember the moment he walked on the moon. Enjoy your first step into heaven Mr. Armstrong
Rocky N. Bullwinkle August 27, 2012 at 01:20 PM
I will remember Neil Armstrong as the brave pioneer and TRUE 60's hero that he was. Neither the President (cough) nor our Governor has thought to issue a half-staff flag order, but WHITNEY HOUSTON got one. Hope some streets & schools are named in his memory instead of after the mutts from back then. The end is near.
June Kempf August 27, 2012 at 02:19 PM
I was privileged to meet Neil Armstrong on the path to the restaurant , '56th Fighter Group' in Farmingdale; as I was escorting my son Jonathan in his wheelchairn with his newly graduated Canine Companion, Barney.There was a garden hose obstrucing the way. Two gentlemen came to the rescue by lifting the hose over our heads forming an archway. Then gesturing for us to pass through,they acted as 'honor guards' for us. One of the men was Neil Armstong - always the gentleman - ever the hero. When I recognized him,we exchanged greetings and he motioned to me not to draw attention to his presence which I respected. I will never forget this moment.
Jennifer Sloat (Editor) August 27, 2012 at 03:31 PM
That's a great story June, what a gentleman and what a nice memory. Thanks for sharing.
Paul Kersey August 27, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Look how the President paid tribute to Armstrong: http://barackobama.tumblr.com/post/30199041207/neils-spirit-of-discovery-lives-on-in-all-the-men
Bill Schulhoff August 27, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I will look up at the moon each night, think of him, and offer a prayer for his soul. I will always remember those July 1969 day/nights fondly.
Paul Kersey August 27, 2012 at 08:44 PM
The narcissist cannot help but make it about himself.
Frank Mercuri August 27, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Not only is he a narcisstist, but also a hypocrite. He is so concerned about space exploration that future astronauts have to hitch a ride from another nation. Neil Armstrong must be chuckeling. What he and others have accomplished in space research and travel, are feats Mr. Obama could never comprehend.
GM August 27, 2012 at 10:58 PM
it's an article about Armstrong , not Obama. Give it a rest (STFU).
Frank Mercuri August 27, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Yes it is about Armstrong and no one should capitalize on his achievements. Armstrong was a pioneer in one of the greatest programs and endeavors in history. His legacy should live on a continuation of space exploration not stopped by a politician. I am living in one of the greatest expansion of technology that ever exisited . the space program was one of the means that developed that technology. Since then there was no limit given the latest achievement in the Mars program. Armstrong lived to see that day. I am one year younger than he. May he rest in peace.
William Voorhest August 28, 2012 at 12:48 AM
My Father knew him & the Apollo 11 "Eagle" LM-5, Lunar Module that he piloted was my Father's manufacturing responsibility at Grumman's Plant 5 in Bethpage, NY, here on Long Island. My Dad had me inside of it when it was being assembled in the "Clean Room". I saw it lift off from the Cape on its journey to the moon. I've heard inspiring stories about what it took to create this remarkable craft. The thousands of dedicated people who worked on all of those space programs were tireless & we will never see their like again. It was my Father's finest hour in a lifetime of achievement in aerospace. That was an important part of my childhood & I'll never forget it. God bless Grumman & God speed Neil Armstrong.
Jeb Ladouceur August 28, 2012 at 05:02 AM
Among the many accomplishments attributable to Neil Armstrong is one he never even knew about. When my little grandson, Eric, was in fifth or sixth grade, the school's musical director needed a student to play the baritone horn. He urged Eric to take up the rather demanding instrument ... and Eric agreed. As the year progressed, and the musical arrangements became more complex and difficult, my grandson began to have second thoughts as to whether the baritone horn was really for him... (the hefty instrument was almost as big as Eric was, after all). One day we sat down and had a heart-to-heart, my grandson and I, and in the course of the conversation, I mentioned that a famous man in our nation's history had played the baritone horn in the marching band at Purdue University ... his name, I told him, was Neil Armstrong. After that exchange, there was never any doubt that Eric would stick with his baritone horn. And he plays it still, on occasion, though a tear might fill his eye if he does so on this somber day.
James Olson August 28, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Little known fact: Neil Armstrong did not say: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", he said: "That's one small step for *a* man, one giant leap for mankind." The 'a' was interrupted by a 'beep' that occured during the transmission. Good thing, perhaps, because it sounds so much more poetic and generous without it for without the 'a' Neil insinuates he's taking that step on behalf of all of us.
John K Massaro August 28, 2012 at 05:09 PM
AMEN, GM! AMEN!
ReeNee August 29, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I was in the ninth grade and most classrooms had tv's set up to watch. We were so excited, and of course a day I still remember clearly, lol, even at my age!
monkey lewis September 09, 2012 at 03:37 AM
We never went to the moon.Look at You Tube Moon Hoax and wonder why we havent been back in 50 years or why NASA says they lost the film.Why did the "moon Buggy" kick up dust that obeyed gravity.Think for yourselves!
monkey lewis September 09, 2012 at 03:37 AM
We never went to the moon.Look at You Tube Moon Hoax and wonder why we havent been back in 50 years or why NASA says they lost the film.Why did the "moon Buggy" kick up dust that obeyed gravity.Think for yourselves!
John K Massaro September 09, 2012 at 03:43 AM
In honor & respect for a great Man & a great American, I ask those at The Patch to please remove the above posts. Trolling on a thread in rememberance of this great Man should not be tolerated or allowed...
Frank Mercuri September 09, 2012 at 12:51 PM
We never went to the moon? please show facts and places with links that say such. As to postings I see nothing here but praise for the man and rememberances, He served his country well and did a job he elected to do. he lived a full life. One talks about greatness not surpressing it. Niel Armstron did a great feat, But so did many of the pioneers of space exploration. We also honor those who lost thir lives to not only in the space shuttle disasters, but also who lost their lives in the fire of Apollo 1. The are to be written about and remembered as heros. I admire them and I can honestly say would never attempt to do what they did. These are special people. So please put all of this is the right perspective. It was their job.
Tom Sant September 09, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Yes it should be about Neil Armstrong but the so called tribute from the White House shows a picture of Barack in front of the moon...some tribute, reminds of the pictures of Stalin and Mao on all official tributes or government propraganda. Wake up.
Tom Sant September 09, 2012 at 01:41 PM
It is wonderful when someone shares great information and memories of the Apollo program. I only wished I could of been there to see them lift off but still have great memories of watching it on television. Neil Armstrong was a true hero, humble and always deflected praise to others in the program. He now belongs to history and the ages.
John Gruber September 09, 2012 at 01:41 PM
yes, that trip to mars that was just made is also a hoax, along with Pearl Harbor and 9/11....if we need to think for ourselves then you just need to think...or crack open a book
monkey lewis September 10, 2012 at 07:09 AM
I moon you

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