Neil Armstrong. (1930- )
Neil Armstrong’s words were heard around the world as a billion people watched the first historic lunar landing on the moon on July 20, 1969. Shortly after, Neil Armstrong stepped from the Eagle lunar spacecraft to become the first man to set foot on the moon. His first words, “That’s a small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.”
Neil Armstrong’s early years were spent moving around, frequently, with his family. They eventually established a home in Wapokaneta, Ohio when Armstrong was thirteen years old. According to NASA, Neil Armstrong was born on his grandparent’s farm in Auglaize County, Ohio to Stephen and Viola Engel Armstrong. He is the eldest of three.
Armstrong began his love affair with aircraft after his first airplane ride at the very young age of 6. After the family settled in Wapokenata, Ohio, he worked hard to earn enough money to take flying lessons and earn his pilots license. He obtained his pilot’s license at age 16, before he got his driver’s license.
Armstrong attended Purdue University on a US Naval scholarship, but was called to active duty in 1949. After the war, he went back to Purdue and finished his degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1955. He later obtained his Master’s degree from the University of Southern California.
Armstrong married shortly after graduating from college. He had three children, one of which died at a young age. She was his only daughter.
Armstrong’s early career years were spent as a research pilot with NACA, the predecessor of NASA. He spent 17 years in that role where he flew everything from jets to rockets, and everything in between. He flew over 200 different aircraft as a research pilot.
In 1962, Neil Armstrong achieved the status of astronaut. His first command pilot was on Gemini 8, with David Scott, launched March 16, 1966. This mission achieved the first successful docking of two vehicles in space. That achievement would help pave the way for the Eagle’s lunar landing and re-docking with the command module, Apollo 11 in 1969.
On July 14, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Mission Commander, Michael Collins, Apollo 11 Commander and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, commander of the lunar apace module, lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sitting atop a Saturn 5 on their three day journey to the moon.
“Houston, Tranquillity base here, the Eagle has landed.” Neil Armstrong July 20, 1969.
The lunar space module, Eagle landed on the moon in the Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong was the first to embark, and utter his famous lines, ” That’s one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.” Buzz Aldrin joined him for a walk on the moon and to do the work they had to do.
Together, they took samples of dust and rock and planted the flag of the United States of America. In addition, they left a plaque, a peaceful message for other space travelers and equipment that would transmit important information to earth.
On July 24, 1969, the astronauts and the spacecraft module touched down on earth. The equipment left on the moon was already transmitting information to earth.
Armstrong left NASA in 1971 and joined the University of Cincinnati as Professor of Aerospace Engineering, where he remained until 1979. He was with Aviation Technology from 1982 until 1992. Ever the space pioneer, he was on the National Commission on Space from 1985 to 1986 and was appointed as vice chairman of the President’s commission to investigate the Challenger’s explosion in 1986.
Neil Armstrong’s lifetime achievements have brought fame, numerous awards, including awards from other countries. He’s been decorated by 17 countries and received the President’s Medal of Freedom. The awards are too numerous to list them all.
“The Eagle has landed.” The “eagle” has special significance to indigenous Americans and the words still send thrills up and down my spine when I hear them spoken at video.google.com.