President Obama, Apollo 11 Crewmates, Pay Tribute to Neil Armstrong
President Obama and Apollo 11 crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins are among the many paying tribute to Neil Armstrong. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, died yesterday at the age of 82 of complications following heart bypass surgery.
Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Neil Armstrong.
Neil was among the greatest of American heroes - not just of his time, but of all time. When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation. They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable - that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And 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.
Today, Neil's spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown - including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space. That legacy will endure - sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step.
Apollo 11 landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The mission had three crewmembers: Armstrong, commander; Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot; and Mike Collins, command module pilot. Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the lunar surface while Collins remained in the command module in lunar orbit to pilot the command module as it docked with the lunar module's ascent stage for the return trip home.
Aldrin issued a formal statement in addition to a number of tweets yesterday (@TheRealBuzz). His formal statement is as follows:
I am deeply saddened by the passing of my good friend, and space exploration companion, Neil Armstrong today. As Neil, Mike Collins and I trained together for our historic Apollo 11 Mission, we understood the many technical challenges we faced, as well as the importance and profound implications of this historic journey. We will now always be connected as the crew of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, yet for the many millions who witnessed that remarkable achievement for humankind, we were not alone.
Whenever I look at the moon I am reminded of that precious moment, over four decades ago, when Neil and I stood on the desolate, barren, yet beautiful, Sea of Tranquility, looking back at our brilliant blue planet Earth suspended in the darkness of space, I realized that even though we were farther away from earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone. Virtually the entire world took that memorable journey with us. I know I am joined by many millions of others from around the world in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew. My friend Neil took the small step but giant leap that changed the world and will forever be remembered as a historic moment in human history.
I had truly hoped that on July 20th, 2019, Neil, Mike and I would be standing together to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of our moon landing, as we also anticipated the continued expansion of humanity into space, that our small mission helped make possible. Regrettably, this is not to be. Neil will most certainly be there with us in spirit.
On behalf of the Aldrin family, we extend our deepest condolences to Carol and the entire Armstrong family. I will miss my friend Neil as I know our fellow citizens and people around world will miss this foremost aviation and space pioneer.
May he Rest in Peace, and may his vision for our human destiny in space be his legacy.
Collins does not appear to have issued an official statement, but NASA's Public Affairs head Bob Jacobs (@bnjacobs) tweeted yesterday that, when told of Armstrong's passing, Collins said "He was the best, and I will miss him terribly."
In their announcement of Armstrong's passing, his family encouraged everyone who wanted to honor him to "honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink." #WinkAtTheMoon has become a new Twitter hashtag.
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