Armstrong, Neil

Neil Armstrong is one of the most well known American astronauts. is Neil Armstrong. He is an American aviator and a former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, and United States Naval Aviator. He was also the first person to walk on the Moon. He was born as Neil Alden Armstrong on August 5, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio. His father, Stephen, worked for the state government, which caused the family to move around many tunes throughout Armstrong’s childhood. As a child, Armstrong was involved with the Boy Scouts and even won an Eagle Scout award. He graduated from Blume High School in 1947, and then went on to study aerospace engineering at Purdue University. However, Armstrong was called to serve in the Navy in 1949, which required him to head to Naval Air Station Pensacola for flight training. His first assignment was to Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 7 at NAS San Diego. Two months later he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 51 (VF-51), and made his first flight in a jet on January 5, 1951. Six months later, he made his first jet carrier landing on the USS Essex. Armstrong flew 78 missions during the Korean War. He received the Air Medal for 20 combat missions, a Gold Star for the next 20, and the Korean Service Medal and Engagement Star. Armstrong left the navy in1952, and became a Lieutenant in the United States Naval Reserve. He returned to college, and earned his Bachelor of Science degree and graduated in 1955. While at Purdue, he met Janet Elizabeth Shearon, whom he married on January 28, 1956. The pair had three children together: Eric, Karen, and Mark. In June 1961, Karen was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her brain stem. Her immune system grew weak, and she died on January 28, 1962.

In 1957, Armstrong was selected for the U.S. Air Force’s Man In Space Soonest program. Three years later, he was chosen as part of the pilot consultant group for the X-20 Dyna-Soar. On March 15, 1962 he was named as one of six pilot-engineers who would fly the space plane upon its completion. His first assignment with NASA was for Gemini 8. The mission began March 16, 1966 when Armstrong and fellow astronaut David Scott were launched. The mission lasted seven hours, during which they docked with another spacecraft, Agena. Following this mission, he was chosen to be a part of the back up crew for Gemini 11.

On January 27, 1967, Armstrong signed the United Nations Outer Space Treaty in Washington, D.C. This same day, Apollo 1 was fired. After serving as backup commander for Apollo 8, Armstrong was chosen to be the commander of Apollo 11. The objective of Apollo 11 was to land safely on the moon, wherever that meant. Just a few minutes into their lunar descent, problems arose with the spacecraft. However, the capcom in Houston gave them the all clear. Armstrong took over manual control and touched down on the moon at 8:17PM Central time on July 20, 1969. Armstrong requested that the EVA be moved earlier in the evening, so once they were ready, Armstrong and Aldrin depressurized the Eagle, opened the hatch, and headed out. Armstrong was the first to get on the ladder, and at the bottom, he stepped off with his left foot and touched the surface of the moon at 2:56am Central time on July 21, 1969. Then he spoke the famous words: “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” About 15 minutes later, Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface and became the second human to set foot on the Moon. They began their tasks, which included investigating how easily a person could function on the lunar surface and planting the American flag. After they re-entered the spacecraft, the hatch was closed and sealed. While getting ready to lift off, they discovered that their spacesuits had broken the ignition switch for the ascent engine. Using part of a pen, they pushed the circuit breaker in to activate the launch sequence. Today, Aldrin still has the pen in a glass case. The lunar module then continued and docked with Columbia, the command and service module, and returned to Earth. It splashed down in the Pacific ocean and the Apollo 11 crew was picked up by the USS Hornet (CV-12). Upon their return to Earth, Armstrong and Aldrin were held in an eighteen day quarantine to ensure that they had not picked up any infections or diseases from the Moon. Shortly after the Apollo 11 flight, Armstrong announced that he did not plan to fly in space again, and resigned from NASA in August 1971. Armstrong then continued his education at the University of Southern California, where he earned a Masters of Science degree. He also holds various honorary doctorates from several universities.
In 1991 while skiing with friends at Aspen, Colorado, Armstrong suffered a mild heart attack. His first wife, Janet, divorced him in 1994. He met his second wife, Carol Held Knight, in 1992 at a golf tournament. They married two years later. During his life, Armstrong received many honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy, the Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautics Association, and the Congressional Gold Medal. Also throughout the United States, there are more than a dozen elementary, middle and high schools named in his honor. Armstrong’s authorized biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, was published in 2005.