Forty-five-years ago tomorrow (July 20th, 1969), Neil Armstrong became the first human to step onto the moon, with his poignant and profound proclamation, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”. Who was Neil Armstrong and why was he chosen to be the first?
Neil Armstrong was not chosen to be the first man on the moon, per se. The actual Apollo mission was unknown. In fact, had it not been for the fire on board Apollo 1 in 1967, Gus Grissom would have been the first commander chosen to step onto the moon. Instead, it wound up being the crew from Apollo 11 to reach the moon surface first.
It took four days for the spaceship to land on the moon after taking off. Six hours after landing, they opened the door.
The famous “One small step…” was not prepared in advance by Armstrong. He had many people suggesting lines for him, but he ignored them. He thought it would be unwise to prepare the celebration before the complicated task was successfully performed.
It was that humble Ohio personality that led NASA to pick Armstrong to be the first out of the capsule. In a secret NASA meeting, they felt that Buzz Aldrin’s ego was too big to make him the ambassador to the world.
They seem to have been correct.
There are no still photos of Neil Armstrong on the moon or stepping out of the craft because Buzz Aldrin, the man with the camera, did not take any. In contrast, all of the photos we have are of Buzz Aldrin, taken by the selfless Neil Armstrong. To this day, Buzz Aldrin’s ego is on display, with his facelift and cameo appearances in movies.
In contrast, Neil Armstrong spent the rest of his life out of the limelight, teaching aerospace classes at the University of Cincinnati. He also dabbled in the corporate spokesman business.
The Apollo astronauts were a rare breed of the healthiest and smartest people the United States government could find. All three Apollo 11 crew members would be alive today, in their 80′s, if it were not for a surgeon somewhere who screwed up and killed Neil Armstrong with an unnecessary coronary artery bypass operation (the surgery has not been shown to prolong life in patients like Mr. Armstrong). He survived interstellar space debris, radiation, and the chance of mechanical malfunction ala Apollo 13, but Neil Armstrong was eventually brought down by the American healthcare system.