|Image: Neil Armstrong and Arthur Clarke met for the first time during a NASA conference held on Wallops Island, VA in June 1970, having shared the bus that took them out to Wallops from NASA headquarters.|
From Centauri Dreams by Paul Gilster
As we approach the 45th anniversary of the first landing on the Moon, journalist and author Neil McAleer has been looking back at an interview he conducted with Neil Armstrong on March 16, 1989. The author of Visionary: The Odyssey of Sir Arthur C. Clarke (Clarke Project, 2012), McAleer has lived among and written about the space community for many years. We learn little about Clarke from this interview, but Armstrong’s character comes through — he’s terse, focused, always impatient to get back to work. I suspect Centauri Dreams regular Al Jackson, who worked with Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in his role as astronaut trainer on the Lunar Module Simulator (see The Magicians of Confidence), will recognize Armstrong’s mode here immediately. His self-imposed distance could never conceal the cool competence he displayed on the most breathtaking descent in history.
An interview conducted by Neil McAleer
I requested this interview with Neil Armstrong 25 years ago, when I was writing and researching the first edition of my Arthur C. Clarke biography. That work was the reason. I wanted to know how they met and what kind of relationship they had during the early years of the Space Age.
The interview’s first question, not on tape, asked Mr. Armstrong if he knew how Arthur C. Clarke’s substantial Epilogue (“Beyond Apollo”) for the book First on the Moon came about.
[Armstrong] “I just don’t have that kind of information.”
This book—subtitled, “A Voyage with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.”–is considered the official eyewitness account of Apollo 11’s journey to the moon’s surface and return to Earth. It was published in 1970, the year after their historic mission.
[McAleer] “Did you ever actually meet Clarke, by the way?”
[Armstrong] “Yes. We attended a NASA meeting for a couple of days, and I can’t remember where it was. It seems to me it was somewhere in Virginia. [Wallops Island I found out later]. It must have been around 1970.”
Centauri Dreams: Neil Armstrong - A Little Bit of Bedlam