Aug. 5, 1930
Was the first man to walk on the moon.by Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Neil Armstrong, a United States astronaut, was the first person to set foot on the Moon. On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, landed the Apollo 11 lunar module on the moon. Armstrong left the module and explored the lunar surface. Upon taking his first step onto the moon, he said, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Armstrong was born on his grandparents’ farm in Auglaize County, Ohio. He moved with his family to several Ohio communities before they settled in Wapakoneta when Neil was 13 years old. Armstrong developed an interest in flying at an early age. His love airplanes grew when he went for his first plane ride in a Ford Tri-Motor “Tin Goose” at the age of 6. At age fifteen, Armstrong began taking flying lessons at an airport north of Wapakoneta, working at various jobs in town and at the airport to earn the money for lessons in an Aeronca Champion airplane. By age sixteen, he had his student pilot's license, before he even passed his automobile driver's test and received that license and before he graduated from Blame High School in 1947.
In 1947, Armstrong entered Purdue University. He began studies in aeronautical engineering. But in 1949, the United States called him into active duty. Armstrong became a Navy pilot and was sent to Korea in 1950, near the start of the Korean War. In Korea, he flew 78 combat missions in Navy Panther jets. However, before the war was over, Armstrong returned to Purdue. He earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering there in 1955. He was a civilian test pilot assigned to test the X-15 rocket airplane before becoming an astronaut in 1962. He made his first space flight in 1966 on Gemini 8. He and David Scott performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space. The docking was between the Gemini 8 and an uninhabited Agena rocket.
As spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first piloted lunar landing mission, Armstrong gained the distinction of being the first person to step on the surface of the Moon. On July 16, 1969, he began his trip to the Moon. Collins was the Command Module pilot and navigator for the mission. Aldrin was a systems expert, was the lunar module pilot and became the second person to walk on the Moon. As commander of Apollo 11, Armstrong piloted the Lunar Module to a safe landing on the Moon's surface. On July 20, 1969, at 10:56 p.m. EDT, Neil Armstrong stepped down onto the Moon and made his famous statement. Armstrong and Aldrin spent about two and a half hours walking on the Moon collecting samples, doing experiments, and taking photographs. Not only was this a monumental moment for NASA, it was a shock to everyone in America. Newspapers, radios, TV’s blared the same thing, “MAN HAS WALKED ON THE MOON!” Older people can be asked, where they were and how they heard about it. Another thing that this journey to the moon did, was shake up the Russians, who before had dominated in the space race. On July 24, the three men splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. They were picked up by the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hornet. The three Apollo 11 astronauts were honored with a ticker tape parade in New York City soon after returning to Earth. Armstrong received the Medal of Freedom, the highest award offered to a U.S. civilian. Armstrong's other awards coming in the wake of the Apollo 11 mission included the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, seventeen medals from other countries, and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Armstrong held the position of Deputy Associate Administrator for Aeronautics at NASA headquarters in the early 1970s. He was responsible for the coordination and management of overall NASA research and technology work related to aeronautics. After resigning from NASA in 1971, he became a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati from 1971 to 1979. Up until 1992, Armstrong served as chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation in Charlottesville, Virginia. He then became chairman of the board of AIL Systems; an electronics systems company in New York. Armstrong lives on his farm in Lebanon, Ohio.