Remembering that giant leap

       “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for Mankind”

One giant has passed away. The first man who stepped on the moon, and who uttered the above words as he landed on the lunar surface, is a hero of mankind.

Our generation of baby boomers was lucky to be born at that time. Not many generations of men had actually witnessed a watershed event during their lifetime, in the evolution of mankind, such as Neil Armstrong’s feat of being first man on the moon.

It is a feat no lesser than that of any other epoch-changing human achievement.

We may forget who was the president at that time ( was it Nixon?) or who was the second person who stepped on the moon after Neil (Aldrin?), but we would not forget the person who represented the giant leap of our species.

At that time, in 1969, I was just a teenager, and we did not have all the gadgets of the modern generation (try explaining that to our children and they would be thinking how these old fella live without handphones or computer?), and the only things that would enble me  to keep up with the news were either the semiconductor radio, or the bulky box with four legs attached sitting in front of one wall in the living room, and  that was our TV at that time. Despite the bulk, the box was only capable of displaying black and white movies and news.

I remembered  our parents watched together with us the footage of Neil walking on moon, and despite the  blurred image, it was something that made all of us stare in awe and spellbound.

Neil Armstrong has forever been etched in my mind as an epitome of heroism and adventurism.

I remember Life ( or was it Time?)magazine had an issue which used the image of earth as viewed from space as its cover.  A small but beautiful sphere hanging in the vast darkness.  How small we are indeed, the human being, and that was the moment I wonder why human should quarrel over small and trifle issues, and be divided into nations which are constantly fighting and squabbling over small issues all throughout history, when the whole human kind should be united and stand together to explore our surroundings and tackle issues that may threaten our survival.

In his walk, even if he was wearing the insignia of the United States,  he represented not just US, but the whole mankind.

His passing is thus a great loss to mankind, and on a more personal note, it reminds my generation how vulnerable we are, and that we should treasure our remaining time in this world to do something useful and fruitful..A small step, the historic moment


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. monsterball
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 12:08:53

    I cannot forget his famous words spoken …stepping onto the moon surface…first man to do that.
    To me….his bravery being the first was much to be admired and Americans became the most admired humans on Earth.
    Lets see Ellese comment less on politics and understand human beings more.
    She must know Dr. Hsu talk as a free man and his heart is full of love for country and people.


  2. Simple Sense
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 12:47:21

    The moment which defined history!
    We are proud to have lived this moment.
    The computer in the landing module was 15% of today Pentium 4 class of processor!
    By the way, it appears all the design drawings for the gigantic Saturn5 rocket are lost, missing.
    Thinking back what great step forward with much less technology! That is bravery!


  3. Dr Hsu
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 13:13:45

    Simple sense
    This was written in Time magazine on that last moment before landing:

    It was the lunar module Eagle that nearly took out Armstrong the final time, when he and Buzz Aldrin were making their final approach to their Tranquility Base landing site on July 20, 1969. Tranquility Base had been extensively mapped by unmanned orbiters and while NASA knew the eyesight of the orbiters was not sharp enough to resolve objects as small as boulders, they reckoned they could recognize a boulder field when they saw one from the surrounding topography. So the Lunar Excursion Module’s (LEM) computer was supposed to handle the actual landing — which it did just fine until Armstrong and Aldrin were making their final approach, when the warning-panel flashed what was called a 1202 alarm and then a 1201, both indicating that the system was overloaded and could process no more. The LEM, by then, was exceedingly low on fuel — and if the needle hit empty there’d be no running on the residue sloshing in the tank that motorists call fumes and astronauts call blowdown. Empty meant empty, and that meant shutdown.

    And then, of course, the boulders appeared. All over the prime landing zone were massive rocks impossible to navigate and deadly to try even to approach. Armstrong took the stick from the harried computer, tilted the half-upright LEM into a head-forward lean and flew in the flat across the boulder field, finally touching down on a spot of soil that had been wholly unremarkable for the entire 4 billion years of the moon’s existence and would now become the most powerfully evocative patch of real estate in all of human history. There were, NASA later calculated, about 30 seconds of fuel left in the tank.

    Read more:


  4. Dr Hsu
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 13:22:17

    Unlike many politicians and retired presidents and prime ministers, Armstrong did not sell his story or be lured into doing commercials endorsing products. He could have easily make millions doing that, but he knew that as the first man on the moon, he represented not just himself, but the whole human kind. That was why after the Appollo 11 flight, he chose to be very low key, and lived a very secluded life.

    He also did not sign autographs, knowing that whatever he signed might end up in some auction houses somewhere.

    If only politicians learn more from him..humble, simple and responsible…


  5. Phua Kai Lit
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 15:56:51

    Yes, I remember the 1969 moon landing.
    A long documentary-cum-“film” was also shown in
    local “cinemas” too. (“Film” has now been replaced by the
    American term “movie” and “cinema”is being replaced by “movie theatre”,
    reflecting American “soft power”)

    Ironic thing was that the USA was bogged down fighting in the
    Vietnam War at the same time. Richard Nixon (soon to be driven out of political office by the Watergate scandal) was the President and he made
    a live phone call to the Apollo 11 astronauts.
    (Michael Collins did not get the chance to walk on the moon like
    Aldrin and Armstrong).


  6. CYC
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 21:32:08

    Dear friends, make you GIGANTIC step by voting for CHANGE in coming GE.
    It may bring more significant changes than Armstrong’s first leap in the moon. It is also another form of brave act.


  7. Simple Sense
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 09:34:18

    Dr. Hsu, at the end of landing, when Amstrong and Adren returned to LEM, one of their head gears bumped against the overhead panel and totally damaged the ignition switch toggle arm. The ignition switch cannot be toggled. So,after informing control back in Huston, Neil decided to jam a ball pen into the broken switch and used the ball pen as the switch toggle, it worked and the module took off with a blast. The rich experience of Neil as a test pilot equipped him with the required calm and thinking mind in times of extreme crisis and came out with the best positive solution.
    As per you mentioned, Neil shunned away from all fame seeking opportunities and eventually quoted his NASA job and took a aeornautic engineering teaching job in University of Cincinnati. A man of extraordinary integrity.


  8. aiz
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 18:56:45

    It is not just historic fact, it is also a living history. A classic example and living interpretation of the meaning of humility.


  9. After1969child
    Sep 03, 2012 @ 21:11:56

    Perhaps there are reasons for his reticence.


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