One Giant Leap…
This last weekend the world saw the passing of a giant. Neil Armstrong was the first human to set foot on another world. He was the consummate test pilot-engineer and a pioneer in the most unchartered of arenas – space. He set the stage for future discoveries beyond our horizons. As commander of the Apollo 11 mission, it was his responsibility to oversee and safely execute the first landing on the Moon. This was the culmination of a career of service and professional excellence that sets the example for us to follow, even today.
Fellow moonwalker, Dr. Buzz Aldrin, described Armstrong as the best pilot he’d ever known. His reputation for attention to the engineering details and his calm demeanor under pressure displayed itself whether Armstrong was flying Navy jets in combat, testing the X-15 rocket plane, or safely ejecting from the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle.
As a member of the second astronaut selection group, Armstrong commanded the Gemini 8 mission and completed the first rendezvous and docking of two spacecraft in orbit. Such operations are essential to the functioning of the International Space Station today. His skills as a pilot-engineer were tested again on that mission when Armstrong recovered the Gemini capsule from an uncontrolled roll, due to a faulty thruster, and brought it back down to Earth.
The impact of his career is still felt and his life and career remain a timeless inspiration. Upcoming International Space Station Expedition 35 commander Chris Hadfield posted on Twitter that “Neil Armstrong is one of my heroes. He inspired and challenged us all to work at the edges of what’s possible.”
The International Space Station exists to build on Armstrong’s legacy and create new possibilities in science, technology, and space development. We will do well to honor Neil Armstrong in that noble endeavor and emulate his dedication to technical rigor, his passion for pushing back the frontiers, and his confidence to let the goodness of the work speak for itself.