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Tuesday, September 4, 2012
NASA: Three Space Pioneers Lost in Less Than Six Weeks-Gen.McCartney,Sally Ride,Neil Armstrong
The first to go on July 17 was Lt. Gen. McCartney, 81, a key player initially in military satellites and inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and then in NASA's civil and manned mission programmes.
Sally Ride, 61, an educationist and the first woman astronaut from her country, was the next to go on July 23.Both of them died of cancer.Neil Armstrong, 82, the first man to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, died Aug 25 of heart surgery complications.
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The United States lost three space pioneers in about five weeks from mid-July, but each one of them - Forrest McCartney, Sally Ride, and Neil Armstrong - did their country and humanity proud.
All three are known for the grace and dignity with which they lived after retirement and continued to encourage aerospace aviation among youngsters. And each one fulfilled the mission of their lives with distinction.
Although McCartney, as a US Air Force (USAF) officer, was involved in military aerospace and missile programmes, the spinoff from the research in those programmes benefited various aspects of both civil and military sciences. According to a statement by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), he came from the position of commander, Air Force Space Division, and concluded a distinguished 35-year military career on Aug. 31, 1987, with a retirement ceremony at the office of the Secretary of the Air Force in the Pentagon.
Born May 26, 1951, Sally Ride had first gone to space at the age of 32 on board the Challenger June 18, 1983, and then once again. She is the youngest US astronaut yet, man or woman. Significantly, she was part of a review panel that examined the 1986 Challenger and 2003 Columbia disasters and helped formulate some new parameters.
Neil Armstrong, of course, has been the most celebrated of the US astronauts. His famous words when he first set foot on the moon, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," turned that singular US achievement into a world celebration and everybody everywhere, including in India, shared the smiles.
Born Aug 5, 1930, Armstrong was an aerospace engineer, a qualified naval aviator with deck landings, an Air Force test pilot and a distinguished astronaut. He is survived by his second wife Carol, whom he met at a golf course in 1992 and married in 1994.