"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." view quote
It would be hard to find anyone who doesn't know these 12 words by heart. Uttered by Neil Armstrong
as he took his first step on the moon July 20, 1969, they are words that perfectly capture the significance of one of mankind's most amazing achievements.
They were almost never uttered at all.
almost didn't make it into the space program. Though he was interested in the space program, he was late getting his application in. If it weren't for a coworker who slipped his application into the pile anyway, we may have never heard of Neil Armstrong
Fast forward to 1968. The year before he was to command the historic mission to the moon, Neil was almost killed in a training accident. In an effort to simulate a landing on the surface, Bell Aircraft created the Flying Bedstead, an odd, unstable craft that roughly simulated the one-sixth gravity of the moon. Just a hundred feet off the ground the Bedstead suddenly went out of control. Neil barely had enough time to eject before the vehicle exploded into the ground.
After his historic mission, Neil virtually disappeared from public view. Or so it seems. There were all sorts of rumors about his reclusiveness. But the truth of the matter is, Neil simply returned to a normal, civilian life. After resigning from NASA, he took a position at the University of Cincinnati, serving as a Professor of Aerospace Engineering. He resigned in 1979, but continued to serve on various corporate boards, including LearJet, Thiokol, Marathon Oil and United Airlines.
Neil is still very private, rarely making public appearances and refusing to sign autographs. "I guess we all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks but for the ledger of our daily work,"
he said in a 2005 interview for 60 minutes, ever the humble, down to earth engineer that he is.
Fitting for a man who also once said
, "I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine."
One can only wonder if this quote we should all remember of Neil's. While the odds are slim that any of us will walk on the moon any time soon, we can certainly live life to its fullest right here on earth. Neil Armstrong quotes