Apollo Astronauts Dwindle as NASA Celebrates Program’s 50th Anniversary

Apollo 8 crew members William Anders, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell on the carrier after their mission. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA celebrates the 50th anniversary of manned Apollo flights leading to the first moon landing in July 1969, the number of astronauts from the program is slowly dwindling away.

Of the 29 men who flew in the Apollo lunar program, 15 are still alive while 14 others have passed away. When the Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs are included, there are 21 Apollo-era astronauts still with us while 17 have died.

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Video: Cast, Crew Discuss First Man Movie About Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong

Video Caption: The cast and crew of Universal’s feature film First Man reflect on the story of Neil Armstrong and the Apollo 11 moon landing, one of NASA’s most notable figures and one of the agency’s crowning achievements. They also note their visits to NASA and working with the agency’s staff in the production of the film. NASA provided our historical expertise, footage and imagery, plus allowed for filming access at our facilities.

Film footage provided courtesy of Universal Pictures.

NASA Helps Bring Story of Historic Moon Landing, Neil Armstrong to Younger Generations

(Left) The crew of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, led by mission Commander Neil Armstrong, leave the Kennedy Space Center’s Manned Spacecraft Operations Building during the prelaunch countdown on July 16, 1969. Armstrong is followed by crewmates Michael Collins, command module pilot, and Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot. (Right) A still image from the 2018 Universal Pictures movie First Man, filmed at the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, depicts this scene with actor Ryan Gosling portraying Armstrong. (Credits: NASA/Universal Pictures)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The first steps on the Moon – fueled by a national will to excel – marked a turning point for America and humanity as a whole. At the core of that historic moment, however, lay the story of one man whose strength, perseverance and personal conviction brought him to the moment his foot would leave the indelible and iconic imprint on the lunar surface.

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“First Man” Biopic of Neil Armstrong Getting Rave Reviews

Entertainment Weekly reports the Neil Armstrong biopic “First Man” has received rave reviews following its debut at the Venice Film Festival.

“This is a strikingly intelligent treatment of a defining moment for America that broadens the tonal range of Chazelle, clearly a versatile talent, after Whiplash and La La Land,” writes The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney, further praising the film’s “refusal to engage in the expected jingoistic self-celebration” that celebrating Armstrong’s first-man-on-the-moon milestone could have registered.

“Gosling downplays his natural charisma here to portray a man simply intent on doing a job, approaching it with the utmost seriousness and without ego. Armstrong shows zero willingness to consider what he’s doing in any self-aggrandizing historical context, his taciturn demeanor proving frustrating to the press, who want uplifting soundbites. That makes the characterization almost antithetical to the standard Hollywood conception of a historically significant figure of this type,” he continues. “Instead, Gosling pulls you in on an intimate level, whether Neil is tackling life-or-death situations mid-mission or simply staring at the moon from his backyard, as if the distant image somehow holds the secret to a successful landing. It’s a subdued, almost self-effacing performance that nonetheless provides the drama with a commanding center.”

The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw similarly heralds Gosling’s work, calling his lead performance one of “muscular intelligence and decency,” while pegging the film as a “mostly soaring” effort overall, and Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman similarly heralds the project as “turbulently spectacular” and a “docudrama in the most authentic and exciting sense of the word” through Chazelle’s “audacious strategy…. to make a movie so revelatory in its realism, so gritty in its physicality, that it becomes a drama of thrillingly hellbent danger and obsession.”

“First Man” is in U.S. theaters on Oct. 12.

Branson Honored for Space Efforts at Apollo Celebration Awards Ceremony

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson was one of three people honored for contributions to further space exploration during the Apollo Celebration Gala held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Saturday.

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Buzz Aldrin Skips Apollo Celebration Gala

Locked in a bitter legal dispute with his own children, Buzz Aldrin was a no-show at a gala event on Saturday designed to raise money for the ShareSpace Foundation he created and to celebrate his signature achievement.

Aldrin skipped the black-tie Apollo Celebration Gala held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The event kicked off a year-long countdown to the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar landing, which was accomplished by Aldrin and Neil Armstrong aboard Apollo 11’s lunar lander, Eagle, on July 20, 1969.

Aldrin is involved in a dispute over control of the foundation with two of his children, Andrew and Jan Aldrin. Buzz Aldrin has sued his children and his former business manager, Christina Korp,  alleging misappropriation of funds, misuse of credit cards and slandering him with claims of dementia.

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Watch Trailer for “First Man” — Neil Armstrong Biopic

First Man – Official Trailer
Coming Soon To Theaters and IMAX
https://www.firstman.com/

On the heels of their six-time Academy Award®-winning smash, La La Land, Oscar®-winning director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling reteam for Universal Pictures’ First Man, the riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie will explore the sacrifices and the cost—on Armstrong and on the nation—of one of the most dangerous missions in history.

Written by Academy Award® winner Josh Singer (Spotlight), the drama is produced by Wyck Godfrey & Marty Bowen (The Twilight Saga, The Fault in Our Stars) through their Temple Hill Entertainment banner, alongside Chazelle and Gosling. Isaac Klausner (The Fault in Our Stars) executive produces. DreamWorks Pictures co-finances the film.

Peter Thiel: Progress Ended After Apollo 11 Landed and the Hippies Took Over

Uber Silicon Valley libertarian VC Peter Thiel and uber nutcase Glenn Beck discuss how to fight the growing influence of uber commie Karl Marx on American society.

Seriously.

Apparently Marx more popular than Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson. Not George.

Thiel also think that progress stopped after Apollo 11 landed on the moon and the hippies took over at Woodstock the following month.

No, I’m not kidding. You can’t make stuff like this up.

Beck then complains that we’re all maxed out on virtual things. To Peter Thiel. The guy who helped make Facebook possible.

And Thiel agrees. Sort of.  Except for that whole Facebook thing.

Watch the whole thing.

NASA Formally Dedicates Armstrong Flight Research Center

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIF. (NASA PR) — Two aerospace legends and their families were honored at a formal dedication ceremony May 13, marking the rededication of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, formerly the Dryden Flight Research Center, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Legislation passed Congress in January to rename the center after the late Neil A. Armstrong, a former research test pilot at the center and the first man to step on the moon during the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Armstrong flew research aircraft, including the rocket-powered X-15s, during his seven-year tenure at the center from 1955 through 1962.

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NASA Dryden to be Renamed After Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong with the X-15 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
Neil Armstrong with the X-15 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

The NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base will be renamed after the late Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong under a measure that has unanimously passed by the Senate and House of Representatives.

The measure, which now goes to President Barack Obama for signature, would rename the Western Aeronautical Test Range at Edwards the Hugh L. Dryden Aeronautical Test Range. Dryden served as NASA deputy administrator from 1958 to 1965.

“I’m honored that the Senate has passed my legislation, which will now go to the President’s desk for his signature that recognizes the rich history of Neil Armstrong and Hugh Dryden in Kern County and the Antelope Valley,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who sponsored the bill. “As we reflect on the achievements and legacy of these great Americans, it is exciting to see our region continue to lead the way in innovation in space exploration and aeronautical research and scientific discovery.”

McCarthy represents California’s 23rd Congressional District, which includes NASA Dryden and Edwards Air Force Base. Armstrong, who died in 2012, worked as a test pilot at the desert facility, where he conducted major testing on the X-15 rocket plane.

McCarthy had eight co-sponsors of the measure, including Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, a Republican who represents California’s 25th Congressional District that includes the southern part of the Antelope Valley where Edwards and NASA Dryden are located.

NASA to Provide Live Coverage of Neil Armstrong Memorial Service

WASHINGTON  (NASA PR) — NASA will provide special live programming of the public memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral to honor the life and career of astronaut Neil Armstrong at 10 a.m. EDT, Thursday, Sept. 13. The memorial will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed online by the agency’s and National Cathedral’s websites.

NASA Television will air two high-definition feeds of memorial starting at 9:45 a.m. NASA TV’s Public Channel (channel 101) will carry the service, complete with on-screen identification fonts of the participants. The agency’s Media Channel (channel 103) will broadcast a clean feed. NASA TV’s Education channel will carry the complete service in standard definition.
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NASA to Honor Neil Armstrong at National Cathedral


WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other dignitaries will attend a public memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral to honor the life and career of astronaut Neil Armstrong on Thursday, Sept. 13. The memorial will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed online by the agency’s and National Cathedral’s websites.

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AIAA Establishes Neil Armstrong Scholarship Endowment Fund


Reston, Va., August 30, 2012 (AIAA PR) – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation (AIAA Foundation), at the request of the family of Neil A. Armstrong, who was the first person to set foot on the Moon, and an AIAA Honorary Fellow, has established the Neil Armstrong Scholarship Endowment Fund.

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Armstrong Service Will be Private, National Service Being Planned for Washington


Neil Armstrong’s family has released information about the memorial service on Friday morning in Cincinnati.

  • A private service will begin at 11 a.m. EDT
  • No media will be allowed inside
  • Still photos will be taken during the service by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls and posted later at neilarmstonginfo.com
  • Attendees will include NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and former Apollo 8 lunar module pilot Bill Anders
  • Plans are underway to conduct a national service in Washington in the next two weeks.