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  1. #1

    Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

    The man at the center of mankind's greatest achievement has passed from this mortal coil. Who knows where he travels tonight.

    It's been awe-inspiring for me to reflect tonight on the fact that, at the time Armstrong walked on the moon, there were people alive who'd been born before electricity and widespread modern plumbing. To think that, over the course of their lifetimes, when the horse and buggy and steam locomotive were the most advanced forms of transportation in their early years, and there were not yet even rudimentary telephones or radio when they were children, we would advance to creating a machine that could travel so fast, over 25,000 miles per hour, that it could cheat gravity and leave the pull of the Earth. And not only that, but that we could aim it to LAND ON THE MOON, HAVE A HUMAN TALK TO US LIVE FROM THAT LOCATION, AND RETURN HOME SAFELY.

    What is inconceivable in the minds of a child today, when they pick up their iPod with 6,429 songs at their fingertips, and when e-mail their friend who moved to Japan?

    Scientists are awesome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC area
    A great man, and a great loss (or is that "Great man, great loss"?).

    Hey!, let's go do a science in his honor!

    -jk

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Mal View Post
    The man at the center of mankind's greatest achievement has passed from this mortal coil. Who knows where he travels tonight.

    It's been awe-inspiring for me to reflect tonight on the fact that, at the time Armstrong walked on the moon, there were people alive who'd been born before electricity and widespread modern plumbing. To think that, over the course of their lifetimes, when the horse and buggy and steam locomotive were the most advanced forms of transportation in their early years, and there were not yet even rudimentary telephones or radio when they were children, we would advance to creating a machine that could travel so fast, over 25,000 miles per hour, that it could cheat gravity and leave the pull of the Earth. And not only that, but that we could aim it to LAND ON THE MOON, HAVE A HUMAN TALK TO US LIVE FROM THAT LOCATION, AND RETURN HOME SAFELY.

    What is inconceivable in the minds of a child today, when they pick up their iPod with 6,429 songs at their fingertips, and when e-mail their friend who moved to Japan?

    Scientists are awesome.
    My grandfather was born in 1880 and died in 1973. His life spanned the period from the horse and buggy to the opening of the Panama Canal through five wars through the automobile age and to computers and a man on the moon. Has any life period viewed so much?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Southern Pines, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by Indoor66 View Post
    My grandfather was born in 1880 and died in 1973. His life spanned the period from the horse and buggy to the opening of the Panama Canal through five wars through the automobile age and to computers and a man on the moon. Has any life period viewed so much?
    Not yet, but soon, maybe.

    Bon voyage, Neil.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Steamboat Springs, CO
    Quote Originally Posted by Indoor66 View Post
    My grandfather was born in 1880 and died in 1973. His life spanned the period from the horse and buggy to the opening of the Panama Canal through five wars through the automobile age and to computers and a man on the moon. Has any life period viewed so much?
    Not to mention: electricity, telecommunications, anesthesia, public health (clean water, e.g.), central heating, modern roads, and -- ahem -- nuclear weapons.

    sagegrouse

  6. #6

    armstrong

    A great loss for (a) man ... a giant loss for mankind.

    I know it's up to his family, but does anybody else think it would be neat to cremate Armstrong and take his ashes along on our next moon visit? His ashes should be on the moon.

    One more point. One of the great early themes of the American's space program was the debate over the role of the astronauts. Originally, scientists wanted them to be passengers with almost all spaceship functions done automatically or by ground control (which is how the Russians did it). From the beginning, the astronauts fought for a measure on control.

    This struggle is illustrated reasonably accurately in the film "The Right Stuff" ...

    The astronaut victory would turn out to be a key to our succesful moon program. The orbital dockings that were such a key part of the plan were only possible under manual controls (the Russians could never do it automatically and when we had the US-Soviet linkups in space, it was always the American capsule linking with the stationary Russian vehicle).

    Thomas Wolff, in his book The Right Stuff has early test pilots sneering at the astronauts, calling them "Spam in a can" and noting they were doing the same thing monkeys could do. In fact, that was the original idea. But that didn't last long. Because of the perceived problem with the heat shield, John Glenn had to manually maintain the attitude control during his re-entry. When Scott Carpenter's Mercury flight was terminated after three orbits, it was brought back automatically -- and missed its target area by over 300 miles. Less than a year later, Gordon Cooper, on the last Mercury flight, flew 22 orbits, brought his capsule home on manuel control after suffering a power failure on board. Using his wrist watch and star sights to plot his course, he re-entered successfully right on target -- in fact, he almost hit the recovery carrier.

    Manual control turned out to be vital in the first moon landing. The landing was supposed to be automatic, but as the lander approached the surface, Armstrong saw that they were going to land in a boulder strewn area. There was real danger that the lander could have toppled on landing, which would have killed Armstrong and Aldrin. Armstrong, who had essentially won the command job by his performance in a similar crisis on a simulation in training, took manual control and steered the lander to a flat surface and landed safely.

    I guess my point is that Armstrong (and his compatriots) were not passengers on those historic flights. They were sure not spam in a can.

    RIP Neil ...

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