American space pioneer Neil Armstrong died today at the age of 82. Armstrong was the first man on the moon and is famously quoted as saying upon landing, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He commanded the Apollo 11 mission which landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. The astronaut “underwent a heart-bypass surgery earlier this month to relieve blocked coronary arteries,” Reuters reports.
Armstrong was a “notorious recluse,” as The Sydney Morning Herald described him when they covered a rare interview he gave last year to an Australian accounting organization, of all things. During that interview, Armstrong told Alex Malley, “A month before the launch of Apollo 11, we were confident we could try and attempt a descent to the surface. I thought we had a 90 per cent chance of getting back safely to Earth on that flight but only a 50-50 chance of making a landing on that first attempt.” The paper also notes:
When Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their descent aboard the Eagle to the moon’s surface, the on-board computer had intended to put them down on the side of a large crater with steep slopes littered with huge boulders. “Not a good place to land at all,” said Armstrong. “I took it over manually and flew it like a helicopter and found a level area and was able to get it down there before we ran out of fuel. There was something like 20 seconds of fuel left.”
Armstrong gave the interview to the accounting association because his father has been an auditor. Read the full article here, which features links to a four-part video series of the interview as well.
Photo credit: NASA