This year, we remember great contributors to the astronomy community. First Sally Ride, first woman in space. Now Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the surface of the Moon. On August 25, 2012, astronaut Neil Armstrong suffered a coronary artery blockage and passed away at the age of 82. Armstrong shall forever be remembered by his spectacular Apollo 11 success and memorable quote: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Indeed true, space exploration has blossomed in the past decades, with NASA’s space probes, rovers, ISS, and precision telescopes (Hubble telescope). Space innovations has translated into commercial improvement. Whatever scientists invent for space missions eventually finds itself modified for commercial use (e.g. laser, GPS, radar). Indeed, Armstrong was not only an astronaut but also a test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, and U.S. Naval Aviator. His first spaceflight was as a command pilot for NASA’s Gemini 8 mission in 1966. His second and last spaceflight, of course, was as the commander of the Apollo 11 mission in July of 1969. For this feat with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, Armstrong received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and Congressional Gold Medal. He may have left this Earth, but his legacy remains with us.
SALLY RIDE (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012)
Sally Ride, the first woman astronaut to travel to space, passed away today at the age of 61 from her 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. At Stanford University, Ride earned her master’s degree and Ph.D in physics. Ride joined NASA in 1978 and rode the Challenger to space on June 18, 1978 at the age of 32 and again in 1984. She spent 14 days in space! After NASA, Sally Ride worked at the Stanford University International Security and Arms Control and taught physics at the University of California, San Diego. She later became the director of the California Space Institute and the founder and CEO of Sally Ride Science. Today, President Obama remembered Sally Ride as “a national hero and a powerful role model.”
Borenstein, Seth, and Alicia Chang. “Sally Ride, first US woman in space, dies at 61.” Boston.com. Boston.com, 23 July 2012. Web. 23 July 2012.