90. Neil Armstrong & Sally Ride, Space Pioneers

Remembering two of NASA's most remarkable astronauts.

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Forty-three years after the first human set foot on the moon and 29 after an American woman first flew in space, Neil Armstrong (born 1930) and Sally Ride (born 1951) resonated in our thoughts again last year. Both will be remembered for milestones that blended scientific and engineering brilliance with powerful, transforming symbolism.

Armstrong’s role on the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon was to serve, alongside crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, as the tip of an immense wedge to penetrate the unknown, backed up by thousands of scientists and engineers and propelled by a brash nation bent on achieving the impossible. Ride will be best remembered not for her role as the first American woman astronaut but rather for her sterling competence, through which she made that groundbreaking accomplishment seem unremarkable and established another truth about the new normal: the inherent neutrality of excellence.

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