The last words I heard from Neil Armstrong were
I have no objection to your quoting me in your book or asking another question (although I am not committing to an answer).
Here’s the context: In 2007 I was in the middle of writing T-Minus, and I’d sent letters (on paper!) along with a copy of one of my books to a number of Apollo astronauts. I had questions about technology and processes, and a number got back in touch. I ended up talking on the phone at some length with both Buzz Aldrin and Alan Bean. Thrilling, and helpful.
Late one night, late that summer, I was avoiding writing by checking email and there in my inbox was a message titled “Your book.” The address was one I didn’t recognize and looked bogus. Spam, but when you’re serious about procrastination you look at those messages too.
It opened with “I have been traveling much of June and July and the mail has been piling up in my absence.” and closed with “Sincerely, Neil Armstrong”.
I yelled loud enough to wake the neighborhood, and ran out to the back porch where Kat was reading…possibly watching a movie. Who can remember? I had just received an email from Neil Armstrong! The one person, if our species manages to survive another thousand years, that everyone will remember from the 20th century.
And it was helpful. He and I exchanged another email or two, and that was it. Zander, Kevin, and I sent him a copy of the book when it came out, but didn’t hear back. It’s okay; I imagine his mail never stopped piling up. And those last words to me were spoken like a true engineer. That’s the person I wanted and needed to hear from. The engineer/astronaut. I smile every time I think about what he said, and I think about it often.
But now that I look back at those messages, I see that my memory isn’t accurate. His last words to me were actually these:
Thank you, Commander Armstrong.