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In 1969, Neil Armstrong beat every Lunar Lander player and everyone else who has ever held the controls to anything ever. Apollo 11 was on its way to becoming history when that almost became an action movie line instead of a dramatic one. First the lunar module computer started flashing up "executive overflow" errors, saying that it had too much to do and would get back to some of these calculations later. Since these were the "NOT crashing into the moon" calculations, it was a bit of a concern. Ground controllers saved the mission by heroically working out that this was literally a non-fatal error, while Aldrin and Armstrong saved the mission by stoically soaring toward the moon's surface anyway until they did that.
That's when Armstrong noticed that the jittery computer was about to pull a younger-sister Mario by relentlessly steering them to death. The programmed landing site had looked fine under telescope observation, but was full of lander-destroying boulders under "inside that lander" observation. With a few hundred thousand miles on the clock and less than a minute of fuel remaining, Neil was damned if he was turning the car around and going home. So as well as being the first person on the moon, he got to be the first person to save space by pulling manual override and steering the ship himself. With a life expectancy measured in seconds, he and Buzz calmly surveyed the surface of the moon and found the most important parking space in history.
When I was growing up, I wanted to be an astronaut. Still do.
That said, The Right Stuff makes Armstrong out to be something of a tool.
There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier.
There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die.
I bet Glanville is vegan.
But on that glorious day in May 1963, Gordo Cooper went higher, farther, and faster than any other American - 22 complete orbits around the world; he was the last American ever to go into space alone. And for a brief moment, Gordo Cooper became the greatest pilot anyone had ever seen.
Chief Scientist: I agree with those who say we could launch a pod.
Lyndon Johnson: A pot?
Chief Scientist: A POD - a, uh, capsule. Now, we would be in full control of zis pod. It vill go up like a cannonball, and come down like, uh, a cannonball, splashing down into ze water, the ocean, vith a parachute to spare the life of the specimen inside.
Lyndon Johnson: Spaceman?
Chief Scientist: SPE-CI-MEN.
Lyndon Johnson: Well, what kind of spe-ci-men?
Chief Scientist: A tough one. Responsive to orders. I had in mind a jimp.
Lyndon Johnson: JIMP? Well what the HELL is a jimp?
Chief Scientist: A jimp. A-a-a jimpanzee, Senator. An ape.
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