Capt. Eugene Cernan, allegedly the last man on the moon, died Monday at the age of 82.
Just a few years back we lost the first man on the moon, just a few weeks ago we lost the first American to orbit the earth.
Today, NASA has mainly gone forward with non-manned missions... probes to Asteroids, Mars, distant planets, and several decades ago, launched a satellite that just recently left the solar system.
It seems an era is passing, where heroes are born through exploration of space and advancement of science. Today's astronauts are making trips to low-earth orbit, and the pilots of the shuttle compared themselves to glorified truck drivers and service technicians... hauling cargo up to orbit and fixing what is up there.
The replacements of the bygone are of a different breed. I think today's modern equivalent of an Armstrong, Glenn, or Cernan would be Elon Musk. He's more of a visionary like Steve Jobs than an rubber-meets-the-road hero of the original astronauts. Granted, his feats of landing rockets on barges to drastically reduce the cost of going to orbit is phenomenal, and its the stepping stone to further exploration.
Space-X is now projecting to go to Mars, on manned missions, fairly soon, within the decade. But when that day comes, who will be more famous: 1) The first Space-X employee to set foot on Mars, 2) Elon Musk, or 3) Matt Damon, the fictional last man on Mars.
I think the era of making a champion out of (1) is over, and the likely most person will either be (2) or (3). Elon for being the visionary of the colonization of Mars, as an example of what you can do when you set your mind to something, or Matt, for inspiring so many people (i.e., the Idiocracy effect) via his dramatic on-screen performance.