Remembering Neil Armstrong

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Neil Armstrong passed away yesterday at 82. The tributes have been pouring in since the sad news broke. My own encounter with him was brief, but I feel it’s worth sharing.

The only time I saw Neil in person was in February at the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Palo Alto. His appearance there was a surprise. Neil was a very private person who rarely appeared in public. But, there he was, having postponed a European trip to talk about scientific research that he and other pilots had done while flying the X-15 in the 1960′s.

I remember how honored we all felt to be in his presence. Everyone knows Neil as the first man who walked on the moon. But, the X-15 research was another one of his legacies to the world, one that very few people know about. Neil talked about it with evident pride to a new generation of researchers that is taking up where he left off.

It was just a thrill to have him there. I recall that we gave Neil a standing ovation when his talk was over. It is one that the world is repeating this weekend.

Well done, Mr. Armstrong. Rest in peace. And Godspeed.

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