Remembering Neil Armstrong: Father, Son, and Special Interests

The Amazing Craig knows an astounding amount about the space program. Here are some of his reflections about Neil Armstrong:

“Neil Armstrong and David Scott literally saved the space program from disaster – they were on a Gemini Mission and did the first successful docking in space. They docked with the Agena rocket booster. What happened was there was a stuck thruster on Gemini that kept firing and it put them in a spin. The whole ball of wax started spinning wildly – they were spinning so fast they could have blacked out and died. They undocked from the Agena, which made the spinning worse actually, and they were starting to get tunnel vision because they were spinning so fast. Armstrong remembered that if he called up the RCS (re-entry control system) that might stop the stuck thruster from firing – because it basically put the ship into alignment for re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. In other words, the computer takes control… but they actually had to manually tweak it too.

Armstrong just casually did it. It meant that they had to re-enter early and in the wrong ocean – but it saved the ship and some say it saved NASA.

Those of us who remember Apollo 11 can remember exactly where we were when they landed on the moon, July 20, 1969. I was 7.

I remember watching Walter Cronkite on our black and white RCA and the words ‘Tranquility Base, the Eagle has landed.’

I remember my mom sighing and saying, Good God they did it!”

After lunch I remember going out and playing on the street with my brother until my mom called us inside to see them walk on the moon. I remember seeing this grainy picture and I remember her crying and saying: “This is actually coming from space!”

I have no words… I mean – you know – it’s amazing how somebody so cool, calm, and collected, somebody who was trained to be objective, would be at the centre of so much human emotion… “

And now… before bed… H is flipping open his laptop to watch the moon landing with his dad… and the story is being retold…

I hear the audio: “The Eagle has landed…” and the conversation and passing of the special interest torch unfolds:

“Look at the kids, H… that’s what we were like. Every nation, everyone, look – the whole world.”

“Even Russia? Is that Europe??”

“Yes… the whole world. Over half a billion people watched this on TV.”

“And you were one of them??”


“Like me and you now Dad…”


“Ya!! They DID it! Is that what you saw Dad?? Let’s dedicate this video to Neil Armstrong, Dad…”

Here is a link to a very cool movie that Craig remembers from Elementary School: The Eagle Has Landed


30 Days of Autism is a project designed to fight stigma, promote civil rights, and increase understanding and acceptance for those who process and experience the world differently.

© Leah Kelley, Thirty Days of Autism, (2012)

About Leah Kelley, Ed.D.

Leah Kelley, M.Ed, Ed.D., Writer, Consultant, Activist, Speaker, and Educator, working with Teacher Candidates at UBC. Authors blog: 30 Days of Autism. Projects support social understanding, Neurodiversity paradigm, Disability Justice, and connecting Disability Studies in Education(DSE)to Educational Practice. Twitter: @leah_kelley Facebook: 30 Days of Autism: Leah Kelley
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5 Responses to Remembering Neil Armstrong: Father, Son, and Special Interests

  1. It’s been a bad summer for amazing astronauts. As a young woman, I was always more taken by Sally Ride than Neil Armstrong, but this post really highlighted some things I definitely didn’t know. Thanks for sharing! 🙂


    • Leah Kelley says:

      Thanks E… Craig’s knowledge about all things space (fiction and non-fiction) is mind boggling 🙂 It is fun to see him sharing that with H – and to get comments and responses that others find it interesting as well.


  2. Erin says:

    This is wonderful. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch the first moon landing, I always get goose bumps. Both my kids were saddened by the news today. Neil Armstrong will never be forgotten.


  3. Leah Kelley says:

    Thank you Erin. I guess this is one of those nights when we can’t help but feel nostalgic and a little blue…


  4. Pingback: Remembering Neil Armstrong: Father, Son, and Special Interests | Lifelong Learning Topics |

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