26 August, 2012
Neil Armstrong has died, aged 82.
My own view of astronauts, particularly the early ones, is that although they were test pilots and knew a bit about fear, this was fear of the complete unknown, they conquered it and that's what I call brave.
When Armstrong was alive, however, no one seemed to have a good word about him or his mission. He was supposed to have overruled the original plan in order to be first on the moon himself, when they had intended Buzz Aldrin to be. He was said to be self-righteous and difficult to work with.
As to the mission, it was believed, apart from the nutcases who still think it was filmed in a studio in the Nevada Desert (I met one of these not long ago, so they exist), that the mission was simply a part of the Cold War: that Russia having been first into Space, America had to achieve something visible and remarkable so billions of dollars were blown and astronauts' lives put at risk.
Whatever, it was a remarkable achievement and Neil Armstrong to some extent symbolised the American Century.