apollo 11 astronauts
July 19, 2014

Who Were The Apollo 11 Astronauts?

April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Apollo 11 is perhaps the most famous spaceflight undertaken by NASA and the US. Three incredibly brave men were strapped into that small Command Module atop the Saturn V rocket in Florida on on the morning of July 16, 1969 to be blasted into orbit around the Earth and eventually the Moon.

Who were these men? The three astronauts were Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins.

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio in 1930.

Armstrong held a Bachelors of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University and a Master’s of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California.

He joined the Navy to serve as an aviator from 1949 to 1952. In 1955, he joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) where he worked at the NACA Lewis Research Center, which is now NASA Glenn in Cleveland, Ohio. Between NACA and its successor NASA, Armstrong served as an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator for NASA.

Armstrong flew over 200 types of aircraft, from jets to helicopters to gliders, before joining the astronaut corps in 1962. He flew two missions into space, Gemini 8 and Apollo 11.

After these flights, Armstrong became the Deputy Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, NASA headquarters. Among other jobs, he was a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati between 1971-1979 and the chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation, Inc. between 1982-1992.

Neil Armstrong passed away in August 2012 at the age of 82.

Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin was born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1930.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the US Military Academy at West Point and a Doctorate of Science in Astronautics from MIT.

Buzz Aldrin joined the Air Force and flew 66 combat missions in F-86's in Korea. He then served as an aerial gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base and a flight commander at Bitburg, Germany. After receiving his doctorate, he was assigned to the Gemini Target Office of the Air Force Space Systems Division.

Like Armstrong, Aldrin completed two space missions: Gemini 12 where he established a record for the longest (at the time) extravehicular activity (5.5 hours), and Apollo 11, where he became the second man to step on the Moon.

Aldrin left NASA in 1971, after logging 289 hours and 53 minutes in space. He left active Air Force service, after 21 years, in 1972.

Aldrin has authored an autobiography, called “Return to Earth,” and another book about the Apollo mission called “Men from Earth.” He lectures around the world about his view of America's future in space, and has remained active in the push to keep America in the manned space exploration game.

Michael Collins

Michael Collins was born in Rome, Italy, where his father, Major General James Collins, was serving in the Army.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the US Military Academy at West Point.

Collins joined the Air Force after graduating from West Point, eager to see where the next steps in aeronautics would take us. He was an experimental flight test officer at Edwards Air Force Base and logged nearly 5,000 hours of flying time.

Like his crewmates, Collins also served on two space missions: Gemini 10 and Apollo 11. Because of back and knee injuries, Collins was selected to remain aboard the Command Module during Apollo 11, and has become somewhat “forgotten” by the media and the public. His skillful piloting maneuvers, however, aboard both Gemini and Apollo missions, made it possible to achieve some of the most historic, and scientifically important, activities.

Collins logged 266 hours in space before leaving NASA in 1970 to become the Director of the National Air and Space Museum, which is part of the Smithsonian complex in Washington, DC. In 1978, Collins retired from the Air Force as a Brigadier General and took the position as an undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institute.

Collins wrote several books about his experiences, including Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys (1978), Liftoff: The Story of America's Adventures in Space (1988), Mission to Mars (1990), Flying to the Moon and other Strange Places (1976), and at least two others. He is an accomplished painter of watercolors, mainly focused on the Florida Everglades and airplanes he has flown, and who refuses to sign his paintings for fear of price inflation.

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