Neil Armstrong's death was a reminder of just how huge the impact was of his touchdown on lunar soil. Not just to NASA, not just to the United States, but to the entire world. He was a true hero; the type of person that really made you believe that humans were capable of truly extraordinary things. Things beyond our wildest imaginations. Who didn't dream of growing up to be an astronaut at least once in their childhood?
It is estimated that over 450 million people heard his iconic words--"that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"--on the evening of July 20, 1969; nearly 13% of the world's population at the time (estimated 3.61 billion). From that moment on, humans were no longer tethered to the confines of earth. The world was at the beginning of an explosion of scientific knowledge and speculation about the universe that lived outside our proverbial doorstep.
Armstrong's impact continues to reverberate within people: it is regularly retold, re-explained, and played with in popular culture. People have dedicated movies, documentaries, miniseries and other programs to the monumental event. So what better way to honor the impact of this heroic figure than to see how his influence shaped the landscape he left us here on the ground. We've cultivated a few choice moments from the past few years to pay tribute to the legacy that shaped a generation and show just how giant a leap he made all those years ago.
Neil's Parents on I've Got a Secret: On the very day that Armstrong was accepted into the newest NASA space program, his parents were asked and then flown out to New York to film the popular show. Talk about turnaround! The best part, of course, is when Host Garry Moore asks an incredibly apt question. "Now, how would you feel, Mrs. Armstrong, if it turned out - of course nobody knows - but if it turns out that your son is the first man to land on the moon? What, how do, how would you feel?" Of course now we all know that to be exactly what Neil Armstrong did, but given that the question was asked seven years before the event actually took place, well that's just really f**king cool.
MTV Lands On The Moon...Sort Of: The classic and original MTV logo was all about the moon landing (where do you think they got the idea for the moonmen statue?), and was a nod to how groundbreaking both events were in popular culture.
Transforming History: Remember when Michael Bay decided to tweak history for the sake of giant metal robots in Transformers 3? Spoiler alert! Neil Armstrong didn't just walk on the moon, he and Apollo 11 discovered Autobot technology in a conspiracy-theory setting from when Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin "lost transmission" during their lunar walk, because of course they did.
Doctor Who's Secret Weapon: The flight of Apollo 11 was recently featured in the Matt Smith iteration of popular British show Doctor Who. The funniest line from the episode was related to Armstrong's vital role to, um, history? "Apollo 11 is your secret weapon?" - "No, no, it’s not Apollo 11; that would be silly. It’s Neil Armstrong’s foot!" The ship even nabbed itself a song on the soundtrack.
HBO's From the Earth to the Moon: The HBO miniseries From the Earth To the Moon about the Apollo 11 landing was appointment television, at least in my household. Gathered in the living room with my brother, sister, mother, and grandparents, we never missed an episode. Complete with been-there commentary from my grandfather's memory of the event, and well, what else is there to say? Played by Tony Goldwyn (with Bryan Cranston as Buzz Aldrin!), the Tom Hanks-helmed event was a fitting tribute to everyone involved in the historic mission.
Neil Armstrong's Back-Up: The 1995 film Apollo 13 wasn't about the Armstrong mission of Apollo 11, but it did feature the families of these future astronauts gathered around the television to watch the big landing. It was a nice tribute to the legendary moon man, and also an interesting juxtaposition considering how bad things were to get for the crew of unlucky number thirteen. Our boy Hanks strikes again with another movie about the Apollo program. Sounds like somebody had a bit of an astronaut phase!
Visits to Springfield: Armstrong also appeared in several episodes of The Simpsons. He voiced himself in the season 4 episode "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie" and season 12 episode "Worst Episode Ever" thanks to archived audio of his famous line: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind!" though the moment was uncredited. In addition, Dan Castellaneta voiced Armstrong on the season 10 episode, "Mayored to the Mob."
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First Man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, Dead at 82
Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, passed away in hospital in Columbus, Ohio at the age of 82 after suffering complications following surgery earlier this month (Aug12) for blocked coronary arteries.
After hearing the sad news, fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, with whom Armstrong made history in 1969 by setting foot on the Moon, released a statement which reads: "Whenever I look at the Moon it reminds me of the moment over four decades ago when 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 millions of others 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 landmark moment in human history. I had truly hoped that in 2019, we would be standing together along with our colleague Mike Collins to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of our moon landing. Regrettably, this is not to be. Neil will most certainly be there with us in spirit."
U.S. President Barack Obama also paid tribute to the spacewalker by stating: "(Wife) 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."
Meanwhile, celebrities like Star Trek actor George Takei have also remembered Armstrong's out-of-this-world achievements.
In a Twitter.com post on Saturday (25Aug12), he wrote, "With him, we all took one giant leap towards the heavens. Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong, as you rejoin them", while Transformers star Josh Duhamel added, "One of our greatest heroes died today. RIP Neil Armstrong."
And American Idol host Ryan Seacrest tweeted, "Thanks Neil Armstrong for bringing the moon into our living rooms & curiosity into our minds. One giant loss for mankind."
Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin made history on 20 July 1969 when they climbed out of Apollo 11's Lunar Module and spent three hours exploring the surface of the Moon, when he famously said, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
The trip marked the start of a new era for space travel and exploration and Armstrong was later handed numerous U.S. honours, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. He was also was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal last year (11).
Special features interviews with crew mates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and leverages special access to the Apollo 11 archives to take viewers through the complete journey - from initial training, to moon walk, to splashdown on Earth.