Neil Armstrong’s nerves of steel — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Neil Armstrong’s nerves of steel

Get PDF file

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Early on, Neil Armstrong didn’t want to be an astronaut. From a young age, he wanted to design aircraft. He took up flying later because he thought a designer should know how planes work. He became a “stick-and-rudder man.”

NASA wanted Armstrong because, as a test pilot, he’d proven himself cool under pressure. That reasoning paid off during the Gemini 8 mission in 1966. A half-hour after docking with a satellite in a perfect maneuver that Armstrong called “a smoothie,” the spacecraft suddenly started tumbling end over end 200 miles over China. As both astronauts grew dizzier, Armstrong calmly tried a series of fixes, including undocking from the satellite, which actually made the situation much worse. Now rotating once a second, the astronauts nearly passed out.

Still, Armstrong kept his cool and tried shutting down the 16 thrusters used as rudders, then turned on other thrusters and manipulated them for a half-hour until he regained control of the ship and then safely guided it into the Pacific.

Later, an investigation showed that an electrical short had apparently jammed a thruster open at full power. By shutting down the thrusters, Armstrong saved Gemini 8.

Lesson: By learning your trade inside out and testing yourself regularly against increasingly tough challenges, you can develop not only expertise but also nerves of steel.

— Adapted from “The Man and the Moon,” Douglas Brinkley, American History.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: