“That's one small step for (a) man. One giant leap for mankind," these words were broadcast from the Moon to the Earth on July 20, 1969 when the astronauts of the Apollo 11 spaceship set their feet on the Moon’s surface. Neil Armstrong, the commander, was the first the crew who left the spacecraft and stepped on the Moon’s ground.
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Millions of people watched the landing on the Moon on TV and today people watch the video from NASA’s archive in the Internet over and over again.
In July 1969, Neil Armstrong became a world celebrity.
“When Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten," US President Barack Obama said in his statement. Armstrong and his crew members showed the world that “the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable — that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible”, Obama said.
Although the expedition to the Moon had only few simple tasks the process of landing was extremely difficult. During two and half hours spent on the Moon the astronauts captured the landscape on the video camera, took more than 20 kg of ground samples, fixed the equipment which enabled the researchers to define the exact distance between the Earth and the Moon and, of course, they planted the US flag. At the time of the space race between the US and the USSR this was a really a symbolic gesture. The Appolo program was designed mainly due to political motives, chief editor of the Novosti Kosmonavtiki (Space Industry News) magazine Igor Marinin says:
"The landing on the Moon was important only by the fact that Americans were the first who did it and became winners in the race with the USSR. The USSR also had a similar program, which implied landing of a cosmonaut on the Moon. Americans landed on the moon walked there for 2 hours, tested space suits and took ground samples. Scientific results of the Moon landing were not significant."
Obama’s rival Republican Mitt Romney also paid tribute to the memory of Neil Armstrong. He said that Armstrong would inspire him by the end of his life. “Neil Armstrong today takes his place in the hall of heroes. With courage unmeasured and unbounded love for his country, he walked where man had never walked before,” Romney said. “The moon will miss its first son of earth”, Romney said.
Congressman John Boehner said, “A true hero has returned to the Heavens to which he once flew."
Neil Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Before joining the team of astronauts, he served in the US Air Forces, took part in the Korean war of 1950-1953 and made 78 combat flights. After the war he served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station in California. In March 1966 he made his first space flight as the commander of Gemini 8 mission. Three years later, on July 16, 1969 he flew to his main mission to the Moon.
On August 25, 2012, Armstrong died at the age of 82 due to complications from blocked coronary arteries.
Speaking in a media interview Sunday, Russian space scientist Professor Alexander Zhelezniakov recalled a Moscow visit by the first man on the Moon Neil Armstrong, who died in Ohio on Saturday at the age of 82.
In 1970, Armstrong said in the Russian capital that the role model of all US astronauts was the first man in space, Soviet Air Force pilot Yuri Gagarin.
Neil Armstrong was a brave man and completed his Appolo-11 mission with dignity, retired French cosmonaut and the Hero of the Soviet Union, Jean Loup Chretien told reporters on Saturday commemorating the first moon-walker who died August 25.
On July 21, 1969, Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the Moon making the famous statement “this is one small step for a man but a giant leap for mankind”.