Why Neil Armstrong Was The Perfect Person For The First Moon Landing

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On the morning of July 16, 1969, Armstrong gets ready to put on his spacesuit helmet ahead of the Apollo 11 launch.


[/to-the-moon/ This story is part of To the Moon, a series exploring humanity's first journey to the lunar surface and our future living and working on the moon.]Funny thing about the [/news/apollo-11-anniversary-a-quick-guide-to-the-first-moon-landing/ first human to walk on the moon], the most famous astronaut of all: Earlier in his life, he thought the outstanding achievements in aviation had happened already.
"I was disappointed by the wrinkle in history that had brought me along one generation late," [ Neil Armstrong] told biographer [ James Hansen]. "I had missed all the great times and adventures in flight."

Born in 1930, Armstrong came of age after the glory days of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, Eddie Rickenbacker and the Red Baron. Fortunately for him, the space age was just about to unfold, and it would lead to the [ Apollo 11] moon landing mission, with Armstrong serving as commander and making that famous first step.

It's a story documented by Hansen in the 2005 Armstrong biography First Man, the source material for the [ ]. Hansen served as a consultant for the movie, which starred Ryan Gosling as Armstrong.

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Apollo 11 moon landing highlights from CBS News


Armstrong, who died in 2012, had his share of adventures in flight, even before Apollo. A naval aviator during the Korean War, he flew combat missions off an aircraft carrier, and once was shot down. As a test pilot for [/tags/nasa/ NASA] and its predecessor, he soared in experimental aircraft, including the rocket-powered X-1B and [ X-15], the latter of which briefly, and dangerously, https://rockfishlax.com/library/index.php/Google_Makes_Nice_With_Wall_Street slipped out of the atmosphere at the edge of space. He first went into orbit in the Gemini VIII mission -- and had to wrestle an out-of-control spacecraft back into a trajectory that would allow a safe return to Earth.

To mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, we're rerunning this interview with Hansen, originally published last October for [/news/nasa-turns-60-and-its-reinventing-itself-for-the-spacex-era/ NASA's 60th anniversary] and the debut of [ First Man], the film. What follows is an abridged version of our conversation.

How would you describe Neil Armstrong in a nutshell?
Hansen: He was very focused, disciplined, very mission- and job-oriented. It took a toll on his family life. But I think he was the perfect person for the Apollo 11 commander role, just the consummate engineer. Foremost in his mind he was an aeronautical engineer.