Neil Armstrong is famously known as the first man to walk on the Moon. He is a former American test pilot and U.S. astronaut and is currently retired. He was a test pilot on the X-15 rocket plane and commander of Gemini 8 and Apollo 11 missions.
Neil Armstrong Biography
Neil Armstrong was born on 5th August, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio, USA. His full name is Neil Alden Armstrong.
Neil Armstrong was interested in aviation from a young age. At 15 he worked in various jobs in order to pay for his flying lessons. At 16 he got his student pilot’s licence before he was legally old enough to drive a car and before he graduated from Blume High School in Wapakoneta in 1947.
Immediately after high school, Neil Armstrong received a scholarship from the U.S. Navy. He enrolled at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana and began his studies of aeronautical engineering, but in 1949 the Navy called him to active duty.
In 1950 he was sent to Korea and served as a naval pilot during the Korean War. He flew 78 combat missions from USS Essex in a Grumman F9F-2 Panther. He received three medals: the Air Medal and two Gold Stars for his military service during the Korean War.
After the war, he left the Navy and returned to Purdue in 1952 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering.
In 1955 Neil Armstrong joined NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics – now known as NASA) as a research pilot at the NACA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Later that year he transferred to the NACA High Speed Flight Station (now NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center) at Edwards Air Force Base in California where he worked as a test pilot for many experimental high speed aircraft including the X-15. From 1960 to 1962 he was a pilot involved in the X-20 Dyna-Soar orbital glider program.
In 1962 while serving as a test pilot, Neil Armstrong was selected by NASA to join the second group of NASA’s astronaut trainees (one of nine NASA astronauts). He moved to El Lago, Texas, near Houston’s Manned Spacecraft Center to begin his astronaut training and underwent 4 years of intensive training for the Apollo program. His first assignment was as backup command pilot for the Gemini 5 mission in 1965.
In 1966, Neil Armstrong was assigned as command pilot for the Gemini 8. Gemini 8 mission was launched on March 16, 1966 and achieved the first docking of two orbiting spacecraft. His first space flight was nearly a disaster. He was in the first US emergency in space with his partner David Scott when their spacecraft spun wildly out of control. They returned to Earth safely.
In 1968, Neil Armstrong was chosen to be a member of the Apollo 11 mission, the first manned lunar landing. The Apollo 11 crew were: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin.
Apollo 11 was launched on July 16, 1969 from Cape Kennedy, Florida by a Saturn V rocket. Four days later it went into orbit around the Moon. The lunar module Eagle separated from the Command Module with Armstrong and Aldrin aboard and descended to the surface of the Moon. Michael Collins remained in the Command Module in orbit.
During the moon landing, Armstrong took manual control of the Lunar Module Eagle and piloted it away from a rocky area and made a safe landing on the moon. His first words from the Moon were: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed”.
Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969. His first words after stepping on the moon were, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”. This event was televised to Earth and seen by millions! The Apollo 11 crew returned safely to Earth on July 24, 1969.
From 1969 to 1971, Neil Armstrong held the position of Deputy Association Administrator for Aeronautics, NASA Headquarters Office of Advanced Research and Technology.
Neil Armstrong resigned from NASA in 1971 and became a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati, where he was involved in both teaching and research until 1979.
During the years 1982-1992, Armstrong was chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation Inc., Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 1986, he was appointed as vice chairman of the presidential commission that investigated the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster.
From 1989 until he retired in 2002, he served as chairman of AIL Technologies (Deer Park, New York), an electronics and avionics manufacturer.
Neil Armstrong died on Saturday 25th, August 2012.
Also check: Neil Armstrong Pictures page.
Did you know?
* Neil Armstrong is one of only 12 people that have walked on the Moon’s surface in the 20th century. A lunar crater close to Apollo 11 landing site is named after him in his honour.
* Neil Armstrong narrowly escaped death during training in the crash of a Lunar Landing Research Vehicle on May 6, 1969.
* The Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum is located at 500 South Apollo Drive, Wapakoneta, Ohio, USA. The museum is open year round. It opened in 1972. Highlights include: Gemini 8 Spacecraft flown by Armstrong and David Scott in 1966, Armstrong’s Gemini and Apollo space suits, Moon rock brought by Apollo 11 crew and many other exhibits.
Related Books and DVDs:
Apollo DVD – selection of dvds
Neil Armstrong: An Unauthorized Biography
Neil Armstrong (Trailblazers of the Modern World) by Tim Goss, Betsy Rasmussen (Editor) – For ages 9-12
Neil Armstrong Links:
- Neil Armstrong:
- Astronaut Bio – Neil Armstrong:
- NASA – NASA Dryden Pilot’s Biographies – Neil A. Armstrong:
- Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum:
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