Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The other moonwalker

Neil Armstrong became a celebrity overnight. The Apollo 11 Moon landing marked a seismic shift in space exploration during a time when the world was captivated by space. It was watched by the largest television audience of its time, and President Nixon put in a congratulatory phone call just after the US flag was planted.
On the astronauts' return, Nasa sent them on a world tour. Although Neil Armstrong initially went along with the celebrations, he always remained aloof; an elusive presence who preferred to talk about facts rather than feelings. He started to decline speeches and interviews, eventually refusing to sign autographs and shying away from being photographed in public. If Armstrong spent just one afternoon signing autographs he could make a million dollars, but he's always refused. He didn't want to profit from his Moon walk financially .
Andrew Smith, author of Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth explains that his conclusion is , Armstrong, now 78, believes simply that he did not deserve the attention.
"There were 400,000 people that worked on that Moon landing programme in various different ways and he thinks he didn't deserve all the credit just because he did the flying part"

A man of humility

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