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The Legacy of Neil Armstrong

Vote in our Patch Poll on whether the space program has lived up to his historic first steps on the moon.

His family called him "a reluctant American hero,' who was just doing his job.

But Neil A. Armstrong, who died Saturday of complications from heart bypass surgery, was a hero.

He was just shy of his 39th birthday when he lumbered down the ladder from the Apollo 11 spacecraft and stepped onto the stark lunar landscape on July 20, 1969.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," he said, as Americans around the country watched in awe at the live footage from dark space, so far away.

That step fulfilled a challenge President John F. Kennedy issued in the early 1960s —to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.

Armstrong began his career as a Navy fighter pilot and test pilot before being tapped for a highly selective position as a NASA astronaut in 1962.

NASA's website this morning features a photo of Armstrong in his flight suit, with a simple "Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012."

“He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits," his family said in a statement released by NASA.

And his family has one request for the American people.

"Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Share your recollections of the first moon landing in our comments section.

Carl Pyrdum Jr. August 27, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Neil Armstrong's accomplishments will live on in the memories of many Americans who lived through the era of his achievements and the greatness of this nation. Sadly, our present space exploration program is non existent. At this point and from here on out, when an American goes back into space, we will be doing so as a hitch hiker on a Russian rocket and trusting in their outdated and antiquated technology of the sixties. A sad epitaph for a man like Armstrong. To accomplish all that he and the others did, just to see it cast aside and ended. Neil Armstrong was and is a true American Hero. Semper Fidelis Sir.....slip the surly binds of earth and touch the face of God. You have earned it.
Freya Stark August 27, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Before Neil Armstrong became an answer to a trivia question, the US had the space program. LM (Lunar Module) (started out LEM Lunar Excursion Module) is a part of my psyche because my father had a part to play in its development (Grumman). Armstrong is a hero, and NASA technology produced great advances. http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/news/facts/ksc/nasaspinoff.html
David Wilson August 27, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I belive people like Neil Armstrong are our heroric explorers thhat blaze the trail into new futures for us all. America in space is changing from a goverment lead endevor to a private American lead approach. Its part of the natural progrssion of exploration. This is teh same way the Internet was brought to us, first by a goverment lead and funded project to a now privayely lead explosion. I belive teh same will happen in space. Private companies accross this country (an dthe world) are now looking and building the roadmap into space that will involve more exploration, new commerse and more access to more than just astronants .. Time will tell but I think Space will now become a bigger part of our future in part because of teh life and courage of our Neil Arstrongs and all the dedicated fols at NASA.
Richard R August 27, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Originally, Russia was ahead of us in space. As America's effort intensified, we became slightly superior to all other nations in this field. We took bolder steps, widened our horizons, and learned from technology. Now our program is dwindling down to the point where we have to hop a ride on someone else's vehicle to get humans into space. Although the space program is expensive, so many technologies have come out of these trips that have made life easier for mankind. However, the most important information that has come out of a lot of these missions has been military technologies. As government continually reduces our military, we had better be sure that our Air and Space superiority is not affected. We need manned space voyages to maintain our excellence.
The Greatest Kall August 27, 2012 at 06:37 PM
The passing of this American icon is a tragic loss and our hearts go out to his family. His adventurous spirit and passion for exploration were inspirational. The impact of his life is felt even among the youngest generations today. We are a local team selected as finalists in the 2012 MoonBots international competition. It is hosted by Google Lunar X PRIZE and LEGO Mindstorms to encourage kids to pursue STEM, learn about the X PRIZE TEAMS around the world competing to win 30 million dollars in the Google Lunar X PRIZE race to the moon and study the heritage artifacts left on the moon. As part of this competition we studied Neil Armstrong's historic lunar landing and we are excited about the future of America in space. With the success of Curiousity, SpaceX, the Liberty spacecraft and heavy lift rockets being developed at Marshall Space Flight Center, we know the legacy left by Neil Armstrong is alive and well. Anyone interested in learning more about the MoonBots challenge is welcome to visit our website at www.greatestkall.com

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