detachable compartment of a spacecraft
On a big motor cruiser owned by North American Aviation, builder of the Apollo command
module, Janet Armstrong, the wife of Apollo ll’s commander, and her two boys, twelve-year-old Rick and six-year-old Mark, stood nervously awaiting the launch.
only partly in existence; imperfectly formed
Originally, the White House had planned for Nixon to dine with the Apollo 11 astronauts the night before liftoff, but the plan changed after Dr. Charles Berry, the astronauts’ chief physician, was quoted in the press warning that there was always a chance that the president might unknowingly be harboring an
of heaven or the spirit
Others charged that the materialism of the American space program would forever ruin the wonder and beautiful
ethereal qualities of the mysterious Moon, enveloped from time immemorial in legend.
capable of being perceived
Nowhere on the globe was the excitement as
palpable as it was throughout the United States.
showing lack of due respect or veneration
CBS’s sixty-one-year-old commentator Heywood Hale Broun, best known for his
irreverent sports journalism, experienced the liftoff with several thousand people along Cocoa Beach, some fifteen miles south of the launchpad.
existing, whether with lawful authority or not
Reverend Ralph Abernathy, successor to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and
de facto leader of the American civil rights movement, marched with four mules and about 150 members of the Poor People’s Campaign for Hunger as close as they were allowed to get to the sprawling spaceport.
characterized by intense emotion
Over the years since she had given her life to Jesus Christ as a young teenager, she had uttered many
fervent prayers, “but never was there a prayer like this one. I had actually heard the announcement with my own ears that our son had been chosen to be on the coming Moon landing team!”
facilitate their coverage of Apollo 11 from Wapakoneta, the three major TV networks erected a shared eighty-five-foot-high transmission tower in the driveway of the Armstrong house.
elaboration of an interpretation with decorative detail
Among a few locals, the media spotlight inspired a different kind of civic
embellishment. Some told exaggerated stories, even outright lies, about their special connection to the astronaut.
precisely and clearly expressed or readily observable
We all had
explicit faith in NASA and our boys, and I had a feeling that our Heavenly Father was the Supreme Commander over all....
an ancestor in the direct line
Legend traced the name to a heroic
progenitor by the name of Fairbairn.
native; originating where it is found
The great Scottish writer and onetime Borderlands resident Sir Walter Scott wrote four centuries later in his poem “Lay of the Minstrel” of the flaming arrows emblematic of
endemic clan feuds: “Ye need no go to Liddisdale, for when they see the blazing bale, Elliots and Armstrongs never fail.”
conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
Decades’ worth of
flagrant expansion by the Armstrongs into what had come to be known as “the Debatable Land” eventually forced the royal hand, as did their purported crimes of burning down fifty-two Scottish churches.
a fictitious reason that conceals the real reason
pretext of a hunting expedition, James V marched his forces southward in search of Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie, known locally as “Black Jock.”
a gift of personal property by will
Stephen Armstrong (Generation No. 7) received his grandfather Van Nuys’s
legacy of roughly two hundred dollars in cash and goods when he turned twenty-one in 1846.
a condensed but memorable saying embodying an important fact
The previous school year, Viola had kept a “commonplace book” filled with “Memory Gems,” such as D. L. Moody’s
adage, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”
a mournful poem; a lament for the dead
From Philip Freneau’s romantic
elegy “The House of the Night,” she learned “what death really is and should be.”
worthy of religious veneration
The doctor did not permit her to attend her father-in-law Willis’s funeral, but with Stephen at home she arranged for Neil to be baptized by Reverend Burkett, the minister who had married them, in a “
hallowed place, truly sacred,” the same living room where the couple’s marriage and Neil’s birth had taken place.
spur on or encourage especially by cheers and shouts
Staging a photo with his birthday-present puppy dog, Tippy, Viola had to
exhort a reluctant Neil, “Stand up there like a man!”
difficult or impossible to understand
Neil’s unusual combination of coolness, restraint, and honesty could be read as
make impossible, especially beforehand
But a person’s being “good” did not
preclude resolution to the point of stubbornness.
relating to the relationship between a wife and husband
On the surface, the relationship appeared solid. But underneath, the
conjugal union seems to have run an all-too-typical course, from loving passion to emotional distance.
ornaments; embellishments to or characteristic signs of
One divisive issue was religion and the accompanying moral
trappings of temperance, in drink and language.
the trait of avoiding excesses
One divisive issue was religion and the accompanying moral trappings of
temperance, in drink and language.
the belief in God on the basis of reason alone
Though uncertain of the principles of
deism, Butchart praised Neil as a man of impeccable character whom he would and, during their flying together, did trust with his life.
brief and to the point
According to Dean, whenever his mother spoke about religion, Neil would listen politely and in silence, offering some
terse comment only if pressed.
deliberately vague or ambiguous
Like many journalists covering the space program, CBS’s Walter Cronkite also experienced Neil’s nonconfrontational—some have even said
a reply that has no relevance to what preceded it
According to Neil’s brother Dean, Cronkite on another occasion asked Neil if he felt closer to God when he stood on the Moon’s surface, to which Neil gave a totally ridiculous
non sequitur: “You know, Walter, sometimes a man just wants a good cigar.”
lasting a very short time
In the view of the Original Seven, if the famous
ephemeral quality that came to be known as “The Right Stuff” existed at all, it derived socially from their common upbringing.
not able to be removed or erased
In their Wolf Patrol, Neil, Bud, and Kotcho entered into one of those
indelible adolescent friendships that thrived on good-natured rivalry.
an engine that causes a bladed rotor to rotate
Neil had made a steam
turbine out of scraps of wood and a little alcohol lamp that heated the little boiler. Every time he lit that lamp, his
turbine would turn with such speed and eloquence.
a witty saying
Accompanying Armstrong’s senior class picture in the Blume High School yearbook for 1946-47 was the telling
epigram, “He thinks, he acts, tis done.”
suitable to your needs
In the quietly
congenial world of the series of midwestern towns that amounted to the truest Tranquility Base that he would ever know, Armstrong prepared to meet the world.
shower with love; show excessive affection for
The Moon, so Zint said, “seemed to be Neil’s main interest. He would
dote on it, ”as well as expressing “a particular interest” in “the possibility of life on other planets....We hashed it over and concluded there was no life on the Moon, but there probably was on Mars.”
attack as false or wrong
“To the best of my recollection,” Armstrong admits today with reluctance and typical reserve, so as not to overly
impugn the reputation of Wapakoneta’s highly publicized amateur astronomer, “I was only at Jake Zint’s observatory the one time. As for looking through Zint’s telescope and having private conversations with Zint about the Moon and the universe, they never happened....Mr. Zint’s story grew after I became well known,” Neil says.
enlightening or uplifting so as to encourage improvement
Many accounts of Armstrong’s boyhood relate that Neil read about the Wrights as a first grader. That seems to be just another
serving to set in motion
According to a volunteer group in Warren, Ohio, that has worked through the early 2000s to turn the Warren airport site into a historical exhibit, the date of Neil’s
inaugural flight was July 26, 1936.
shaped into alternating parallel grooves and ridges
The machine that took them up was a high-wing monoplane, the Ford Trimotor, nicknamed the “Tin Goose” for its skin of
indicate by signs
Nonetheless, the incident serves as an allegory for his life—as an engineer, test pilot, and astronaut—
presaging his strong preference for solitary challenges that task the mind more than the body...
capable of being pulled back
While Armstrong’s friends drew biplanes with fixed landing gear, Neil drew low-wing monoplanes with
retractable tricycle landing gear.
fill to satisfaction
But the advantage was theoretical, as only ever more hours in the air would
satiate his zest.
one who precedes you in time
As Armstrong entered college, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), NASA’s
predecessor, along with the newly established U.S. Air Force, moved ahead ambitiously to construct new research facilities devoted to transonics, supersonics, and hypersonics (the speed regime, at around Mach 5, where the effects of aerodynamic heating became pronounced).
an unbroken period of time during which you do something
Armstrong’s time in the aeronautical engineering program at Purdue University spanned—including a three-year
stint in the military—from September 1947 to January 1955.
a quantity that has magnitude and direction
Armstrong did not choose to pursue the new Theoretical Aeronautics option that premiered at Purdue in the fall of 1954, but he did, in his final semester of coursework, take its very challenging course on
stopping and starting at irregular intervals
He also had
intermittent weekend responsibilities as an officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve, carpooling with his Purdue navy buddies to the Naval Air Station in Glenview, Illinois, north of Chicago, to fly F9F-6 jets.