Monday, August 27, 2012

Celebrating Armstrong’s Legacy

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian National Space Agency is planning an exhibition to celebrate Neil Armstrong's life and legacy. The agency hopes to hold the exhibition by year-end. Its director-general Dr Mustafa Din Subari said he was deeply appreciative of Armstrong's lifelong dedication to space exploration, which became an inspiration to him and many of his colleagues. “He was a great man who gave his entire life to the betterment of space exploration. Any country with a space programme respects him and Malaysia is no exception,” said Dr Mustafa.

Recalling his meeting with Armstrong, Malaysia's astronaut Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor described it as the “greatest moment in my life”. “He wasn't what I expected of someone who had achieved so much. He was a humble man,” said Dr Muszaphar. He said Armstrong was a role model to him when he was young and hoped his legacy would continue to inspire people. “He paved the way for space exploration and inspired many young minds to follow their dreams.” Armstrong, who set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969, died aged 82 due to complications from blocked coronary arteries on Saturday.

United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs director and prominent Malaysian astrophysicist Datuk Dr Mazlan Othman said Armstrong's passing was sad news not only to astronauts but physicists and engineers who were inspired by his work. “I met him in 2005 when we were in the midst of selecting our own astronaut and spoke briefly. “His landing on the moon was the epitome of science and technology. It touched the lives of many great people, some of whom I know personally,” said Dr Mazlan, adding that he was an inspiring figure to her as a young physics student in 1969.

Astronautical Association of Malaysia president Faiz Kamaludin, who attended a talk by Armstrong, spoke of him as a wise man. “To him, being the first man on the moon was just him doing his job but to all of us, it was a defining moment for mankind,” said Faiz.

Yesterday, some netizens noted the half-illuminated moon, and quipped that it was seemingly paying a symbolic half-mast tribute to its first human conqueror. Malaysians paid their respects to the iconic space explorer. “RIP Neil Armstrong, you walked where nobody dared walk before,” said Geoffrey Yeow on Facebook. Meanwhile, Twitter user @mkutty tweeted “mankind will always remember him forever”. On a local news portal, Demudu Narasiah commented that Armstrong was “a soul who made mankind proud”.