I was saddened to learn this evening of the passing of Neil Armstrong, a man who entered history in 1969 as the first human being to set foot on another world.
I remember watching, a wide-eyed child of six years, as my father explained to me that the man I was seeing on TV was actually walking on the Moon, which was visible in the sky at the time.
I don't know that the significance of Man's first step on the lunar surface made much of an impresson on me at the time - I may have been waiting for the monsters to appear - but I could tell from the expression on my father's face that something important was happening.
I have always had a fascination with space; the courage of men and women who launch themselves into the cosmos on the back of what amounts to an enormous bomb never fails to win my admiration.
But men such as Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were among the pioneers - their exploits and those of they who preceded them (Gagarin, Shepard, Leonov, Glenn, et al) paved the way for the astronauts of today as they continue to make advances that will one day enable us to revisit the lunar surface and go beyond; to Mars, the Jovian moons and, in time, the stars.
Let us hope that the next generation, those who walk in the footsteps of Armstrong, Aldrin and the men of the Apollo missions, as they revisit the Moon and beyond, do so in the spirit and character of those who laid the trail.
For all mankind...