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Northern prof recalls day Armstrong landed on moon

Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, moved the world a second time this weekend with his death at the age of 82.

Like his history-shaping step more than 43 years ago, Armstrong's death was felt around the world, including north-central Montana.

Spike Magelssen, Montana State University-Northern professor and the space enthusiast behind Havre's recent Yuri's night celebrations, said he remembered watching the moon landing when he was 11 years old.

"It was just phenomenal that we could leave the bonds of Earth and make it to the moon, " Magelssen said this morning. "When they look back at the 20th century, that will be the number one thing. "

Magelssen beamed over the inspiration and more tactile contributions — MRIs, kevlar, cellphones and satellites — that Armstrong, with fellow Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and all of America's space program from Gemini to Mercury missions, gave the world. He also lamented the lack of attention and dedication for space exploration since man stopped going to the moon.

"We really have been remiss in manned space exploration, " Magelssen said. "We spend more in one year on defense and controlling our military empire around the world that we spent in the whole 50 years of NASA's existence. "

Some of the past year's developments, from the Curiosity rover that touched down on the surface of Mars a few weeks ago to the growing interest in private space exploration groups like Space X, who docked with the International Space Station earlier this year, and Planetary Resources, who hope to mine asteroids in the next decade, have encouraged Magelssen. But it all goes back to that July day, 43 years ago, amid the crags and craters of the moon.

"It's all Neil Armstrong, " Magelssen said. "He's the one who planted the flag. "


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