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the first man on the Moon
Neil Alden Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on August 5, 1930. He took his first airplane ride at the age of six, and received his pilot's license on his sixteenth birthday.
Armstrong entered Purdue University on a scholarship from the U.S. Navy, but was called into active duty upon outbreak of the Korean War. A naval aviator during the war, he flew 78 combat missions, and earned three air medals. He returned to Purdue after the war, and earned his Bachelor of Science in aeronautical engineering in 1955.
After college Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) as a research pilot at the Lewis Laboratory in Cleveland. He later transferred to the NACA High Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base, California, where he piloted many of the nation's newest high speed aircraft. One of the most notable aircraft he flew was the X-15, which was capable of flying at 4,000 miles per hour.
In 1962, Armstrong became an astronaut. After serving as the backup command pilot for Gemini 5, he got his first chance to go into space as the command pilot for Gemini 8. During this mission, which was launched on March 16, 1966, Armstrong and co-pilot David Scott performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space.
On July 20, 1969, as commander of Apollo XI, Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon, followed closely by Buzz Aldrin; Michael Collins remained in the command module during the moon landing.
Armstrong visited the Soviet Union May 24 to June
4, 1970, as a guest of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. In
the picture, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova is
pinning a souvenir badge on his lapel. He was also
presented with the model of docked Soyuz spacecraft seen
in the foreground.
Armstrong never made another trip into space after his historic moon mission. In 1970, he received his Master of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California. He served as Deputy Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, NASA Headquarters Office of Advanced Research and Technology, from 1970 to 1971, and resigned from NASA in 1971.
From 1971 to 1979, Armstrong served as a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He has subsequently served on the boards of several prominent aerospace-related corporations. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the National Commission on Space, which two years later presented a report outlining the future of America's space program. In 1986, he served on the Rogers Commission, which was charged with investigating the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. He died in Cincinatti, Ohio, on August 25, 2012.
Armstrong's authorized biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, was written by former NASA historian James Hansen and published in 2005.
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This page was last updated on 10/14/2018.