Neil Armstrong concerned for NASA


Astronaut Neil Armstrong gave a rare interview in May 2012, during which he expressed concern for the direction in which NASA was heading.


Chip Somodevilla

Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, is known as a famously elusive interview subject, but the Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia were able to secure almost an hour-long interview with the now octogenarian astronaut, according to the Guardian.

During the conversation, posted on the CPA Australia site, Armstrong revealed, "I thought we had a 90 percent chance of getting back safely to Earth on that flight but only a 50-50 chance of making a landing on that first attempt," according to Agence France Presse.

Armstrong also expressed dissatisfaction over the current state of the NASA program, saying, "I’m substantially concerned about the policy directions of the space agency, which are directed by the administration," according to the Guardian.

"We have a situation in the states where the White House and the Congress are at odds over what the future direction should be and they're playing a game and NASA is the shuttlecock they're hitting back and forth as both sides try to get NASA on the proper path."

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According to NASA, Armstrong served as a naval pilot from 1949 to 1952, before he joined the predecessor of NASA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, in 1955. During his career, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator. It was in 1962 that Armstrong officially became an astronaut.

It was during this same year that Kennedy challenged America's scientists to aim for the moon, saying these famous lines at a speech at Rice University: "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard," according to Wired.

It would be seven more years before Armstrong uttered his famous lines, "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," from the surface of the moon.

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The head of CPA, Alex Malley, said of Armstrong, "The most compelling thing I felt about him was his humility – his commitment to his team, his deference to everyone except himself, his respect for the Russians – I found that quite extraordinary," reported AFP.

Just last month, NASA's space shuttles Discovery and Enterprise were retired to their museum homes in New York City and Washington, DC. SpaceX, the world first privately financed spaceship, performed a successful fly-by of the International Space Station, in anticipation of a planned docking later in the week.