Neil Armstrong, the first person to take a step on the moon, died on on Saturday at age 82.
Coincidentally, on Friday I spent almost an hour talking to Cathleen Lewis, curator of International Space Programs and Spacesuits at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, about Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit.
Lewis told me that the while the spacesuit was designed to withstand the extreme conditions of going to, and coming back from, space, it was not expected to last very long here on earth.
But The National Air & Space Museum got a hold of it and has been watching over this spacesuit very carefully since 1971, when NASA gave it to the Smithsonian Institution for safekeeping. The spacesuit was on display for about 30 years, but has been in storage since 2006.
Here’s one more photo I always get a kick out of that’s related to the first landing on the moon.
The Navy chose the aircraft carrier USS Hornet as the primary recovery ship for Apollo 11 and on July 24th, 1969, President Richard Nixon and other dignitaries were on hand when the Hornet recovered the Columbia command module and its three astronaut-occupants after it splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. In the photo above, Nixon is chatting with the astronauts in the mobile quarantine facility (a converted Airstream trailer) they were confined in until it was certain they had not brought back anything contagious from the moon.
In a statement announcing Neil Armstrong death, the family asks the public 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.”