The Life and Legacy of Neil Armstrong

Monday, August 27, 2012

Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 Commander, inside the Lunar Module as it rests on the lunar surface after completion of his historic moonwalk. (NASA)

When astronaut Neil Armstrong took those first steps on the surface of the moon 43 years ago, he became a hero to millions, an icon of mankind’s potential and a symbol of the triumph of American democracy over Soviet communism. 

Yet the man who spoke so eloquently to hundreds of millions on July 20, 1969 soon withdrew from the public eye. In the decades since Apollo 11, Armstrong bypassed elite job offers for a teaching position at the University of Cincinnati. He spent the last years of his life with his family on a farm in Lebanon, Ohio.

Despite his aversion to the spotlight, Armstrong made a few public appearances in the last years of his life. He testified before Congress, protesting the privatization of space research. NASA, Armstrong explained to Congress, "must find ways of restoring hope and confidence to a confused and disconsolate work force." According to Armstrong’s official biographer James Hansen, Armstrong was never a political man, just an astronaut dedicated to his cause.

James Hansen is a professor of history at Auburn University. His recent biography of Neil Armstrong is called "First Man."

Guests:

James Hansen

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger

Comments [3]

anna from new york

Imagine ..
what life would be if he and other geeks spent their energy on fighting for universal health care
It's possible it would be prettier ... here.

Aug. 28 2012 09:51 AM
ej

The most beautiful introduction ive ever heard.

Aug. 27 2012 03:51 PM
anna from new york

Neil Armstrong saw prettiness "there;" American "liberals" see prettiness "there." I am glad that there is prettiness somewhere.
It is most certainly ugly here - 50 million of uninsured (not Armstrong's or liberals' concern), millions of terrorized employees or even more terrorized unemployed, millions of homeless, but we babble about "prettiness."
Not pretty. Soviet citizens were aware that this "march to Cosmos" was a distraction. Americans have trouble understanding even the most obvious things. Not pretty.

Aug. 27 2012 07:43 AM

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