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Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong pose.jpg
Neil Armstrong Signature.svg
USAF / NASA Astronaut
Status Retired
Born August 5, 1930 (1930-08-05) (age 79)
Wapakoneta, Ohio, U.S.
Previous occupation Naval aviator, Test pilot
Time in space 8 days, 14 hours and 12 minutes and 31 seconds
Selection 1957 MISS Group; 1960 Dyna-Soar; 1962 NASA Astronaut Group 2
Missions Gemini 8, Apollo 11
Mission insignia
Ge08Patch orig.png Apollo 11 insignia.png
Moon landing

Neil Alden Armstrong (born August 5, 1930) is an American aviator and a former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, and United States Naval Aviator. He was the first person to set foot on the Moon. His first spaceflight was aboard Gemini 8 in 1966, for which he was the command pilot, becoming the first U.S. civilian to fly in space. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft together with pilot David Scott. Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 20, 1969. On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module. Armstrong is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was in the United States Navy and saw action in the Korean War. After the war, he served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he flew over 900 flights in a variety of aircraft. As a research pilot, Armstrong served as project pilot on the F-100 Super Sabre A and C aircraft, F-101 Voodoo, and the Lockheed F-104A Starfighter. He also flew the Bell X-1B, Bell X-5, North American X-15, F-105 Thunderchief, F-106 Delta Dart, B-47 Stratojet, KC-135 Stratotanker and Paresev. He graduated from Purdue University and the University of Southern California.

Contents

Early years

Son of Stephen Koenig Armstrong and Viola Louise Engel, Neil Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio.[1][2] He is of Scots-Irish and German descent. Stephen Armstrong worked for the Ohio government, and the family moved around the state repeatedly for the next 15 years, living in 20 different towns. Armstrong had two siblings, June and Dean. His father's last forced move was to Wapakoneta in 1944. By this time, Armstrong was active in the Boy Scouts and he eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout. As an adult, he would be recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with their Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Silver Buffalo Award.[3] In Wapakoneta, he attended Blume High School.

In 1947, Armstrong began studying aerospace engineering at Purdue University, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta[4] and Kappa Kappa Psi.[5] He was only the second person in his family to attend college. He was also accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but the only engineer he knew (who had attended MIT) dissuaded him from attending, telling Armstrong that it was not necessary to go all the way to Cambridge, Massachusetts for a good education.[6] His college tuition was paid for under the Holloway Plan; successful applicants committed to four years of study, followed by three years of service in the United States Navy, then completion of the final two years of the degree. At Purdue, he received average marks in his subjects, with a GPA that rose and fell over the eight semesters. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1955, and a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970.[7] He holds honorary doctorates from a number of universities.

Navy service

Armstrong's call-up from the Navy arrived on January 26, 1949, and required him to report to Naval Air Station Pensacola for flight training. This lasted almost 18 months, during which time he qualified for carrier landing aboard the USS Cabot and USS Wright. On August 12, 1950, a week after his 20th birthday, he was informed by letter he was now a fully qualified Naval Aviator.[8]

His first assignment was to Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 7 at NAS San Diego (now known as NAS North Island). Two months later he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 51 (VF-51), an all-jet squadron. He would make his first flight in a jet, an F9F-2B Panther on January 5, 1951. Six months later, he made his first jet carrier landing on the USS Essex. The same week he was promoted from midshipman to ensign. By the end of the month, the Essex had set sail with VF-51 aboard, bound for Korea, where they would act as ground-attack aircraft.[9] He made over 600[citation needed] flights in a variety of aircraft.

Armstrong first saw action in the Korean War on August 29, 1951,[citation needed] as an escort for a photo reconnaissance plane over Songjin. The principal targets for his armed reconnaissance flight were freight yards and a bridge on a narrow valley road south of the village of Majon-ni, west of Wonsan. On September 3, 1951, while making a low bombing run at about 350 mph (560 km/h) in his F9F Panther, Armstrong's plane was hit by anti-aircraft gunfire. The plane took a nose dive, and sliced through a cable strung about 500 ft (150 m) up across the valley by the North Koreans. This sheared off an estimated six feet (2 m) of its right wing.[citation needed]

A portrait of Armstrong taken November 20, 1956 while he was a test pilot at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Armstrong was able to fly the plane back to friendly territory, but could not land the plane safely due to the loss of the aileron, which left ejection as his only option. He planned to eject over water and await rescue by navy helicopters, so he flew to an airfield near Pohang. Instead of a water rescue, winds forced his ejection seat back over land. Armstrong was picked up by a jeep driven by a roommate from flight school. It is unknown what happened to the wreckage of No. 125122 F9F-2.[10]

Over Korea, Armstrong flew 78 missions for a total of 121 hours in the air, most of which was in January 1952. He received the Air Medal for 20 combat missions, a Gold Star for the next 20, and the Korean Service Medal and Engagement Star.[11] Armstrong left the navy at the age of 22 on August 23, 1952, and became a Lieutenant, Junior Grade in the United States Naval Reserve. He resigned his commission in the Naval Reserve on October 20, 1960.[12]

Armstrong returned to Purdue after he separated from the Navy, and his best grades at the university came in the four semesters following his return from Korea. He pledged the Phi Delta Theta fraternity after his return, where he wrote and co-directed their musical as part of the all-student revue. His final GPA was 4.8 out of 6.0.[13] He was also a member of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity. Armstrong graduated with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1955.[citation needed]

While at Purdue, he met Janet Elizabeth Shearon, who was majoring in home economics. According to the two there was no real courtship and neither can remember the exact circumstances of their engagement, except that it occurred while Armstrong was working at the NACA's Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory. They were married on January 28, 1956 at the Congregational Church in Wilmette, Illinois. When he moved to Edwards Air Force Base, he lived in the bachelor quarters of the base, while Janet lived in the Westwood district of Los Angeles. After one semester, they moved into a house in Antelope Valley. Janet never finished her degree, a fact she regretted later in life.[14]

The couple had three children together – Eric, Karen, and Mark.[15] In June 1961, Karen was diagnosed with a malignant tumor of the middle part of her brain stem. X-ray treatment slowed its growth but her health deteriorated to the point where she could no longer walk or talk. Karen died of pneumonia, related to her weakened health, on January 28, 1962.[16]

Test pilot

After he graduated from Purdue, Armstrong decided to try to become an experimental, research test pilot. He applied at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base, which had no open positions and forwarded the application to the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio. Armstrong began working at Lewis Field in February 1955.[17]

On his first day at Edwards, Armstrong flew his first assignments, piloting chase planes on drops of experimental aircraft from converted bombers. He also flew the converted bombers, and on one of these missions had his first flight incident at Edwards. Armstrong was in the right-hand seat of a B-29 Superfortress on March 22, 1956,[citation needed] which was to air-drop a Douglas Skyrocket D-558-2. As the right-hand seat pilot, Armstrong was in charge of the payload release, while the left-hand seat commander, Stan Butchart, flew the B-29.

As they ascended to 30,000 ft (9 km), the number four engine stopped and the propeller began windmilling in the airstream. Hitting the switch that would stop the propeller spinning, Butchart found the propeller slowed but then started spinning again, this time even faster than the other engines; if it spun too fast, it would fly apart. Their aircraft needed to hold an airspeed of 210 mph (338 km/h) to launch its Skyrocket payload, and the B-29 could not land with the Skyrocket still attached to its belly. Armstrong and Butchart nosed the aircraft down to pick up speed, then launched the Skyrocket. At the very instant of launch, the number four engine propeller disintegrated. Pieces of it careened through part of the number three engine and hit the number two engine. Butchart and Armstrong were forced to shut down the number three engine, due to damage, and the number one engine, due to the torque it created. They made a slow, circling descent from 30,000 ft (9,000 m) using only the number two engine, and landed safely.

Armstrong's first flight in a rocket plane was on August 15, 1957, in the Bell X-1B, to an altitude of 11.4 miles (18.3 km). He broke the nose landing gear when he landed, which had happened on about a dozen previous flights of the aircraft due to the aircraft's design.[18] He first flew the North American X-15 on November 30, 1960, to a top altitude of 48,840 ft (14.9 km) and a top speed of Mach 1.75 (1,150 mph or 1,810 km/h).[citation needed]

Armstrong stands next to the X-15 ship#1 after a research flight.

Armstrong was involved in several incidents that went down in Edwards folklore and/or were chronicled in the memoirs of colleagues. The first was an X-15 flight on April 20, 1962, when Armstrong was testing a self-adjusting control system. He flew to a height of 207,000 ft (63 km), (the highest he flew before Gemini 8), but he held the aircraft nose up too long during descent, and the X-15 literally bounced off the atmosphere back up to 140,000 ft (43 km). At that altitude, the atmosphere is so thin that aerodynamic surfaces have no effect. He flew past the landing field at Mach 3 (2,000 mph, or 3,200 km/h) and over 100,000 ft (30.5 km) altitude. He ended up 45 miles (72 km) south of Edwards (legend has that he flew as far as the Rose Bowl). After sufficient descent, he turned back toward the landing area, and barely managed to land without striking Joshua trees at the south end. It was the longest X-15 flight in both time and distance of the ground track.[19]

A second incident happened when Armstrong flew for the only time with Chuck Yeager, four days after his X-15 adventure. Flying a T-33 Shooting Star, their job was to test out Smith Ranch Dry Lake for use as an emergency landing site for the X-15. In his autobiography, Yeager wrote that he knew the lake bed was unsuitable for landings after recent rains, but Armstrong insisted on flying out anyway. As they made a Touch-and-Go, the wheels became stuck and they had to wait for rescue. Armstrong tells a different version of events, where Yeager never tried to talk him out of it and they made a first successful landing on the east side of the lake. Then Yeager told him to try again, this time a bit slower. On the second landing they became stuck and according to Armstrong, Yeager was in fits of laughter.[20]

Many of the test pilots at Edwards praised Armstrong's engineering ability. Milt Thompson said he was "the most technically capable of the early X-15 pilots." Bruce Peterson said Armstrong "had a mind that absorbed things like a sponge." Those who flew for the Air Force tended to have a different opinion, especially people like Chuck Yeager and Pete Knight who did not have engineering degrees. Knight said that pilot-engineers flew in a way that was "more mechanical than it is flying," and gave this as the reason why some pilot-engineers got into trouble: their flying skills did not come naturally.[21]

On May 21, 1962, Armstrong was involved in what Edwards' folklore called the "Nellis Affair." He was sent in an F-104 to inspect Delamar Lake, again for emergency landings. He misjudged his altitude, and also did not realize that the landing gear hadn't fully extended. As he touched down, the landing gear began to retract. Armstrong applied full power to abort the landing, but the ventral fin and landing gear door struck the ground, which damaged the radio and released hydraulic fluid. Without radio communication, Armstrong flew to Nellis Air Force Base, past the control tower, and waggled his tail, the signal for a no-radio approach. The loss of hydraulic fluid caused the tail-hook to release, and upon landing he caught the arresting wire attached to an anchor chain, and careened along the runway dragging chain. Thirty minutes were needed to clear the runway and rig an arresting cable. Meanwhile, Armstrong telephoned Edwards and asked for someone to pick him up. Milt Thompson was sent in an F-104B, the only two-seater available, but a plane Thompson had never flown. With great difficulty, Thompson made it to Nellis, but a strong crosswind caused a hard landing and the left main tire suffered a blowout. The runway was again closed to clear it. Bill Dana was sent to Nellis in a T-33 Shooting Star, but he almost landed long. The Nellis base operations office decided that it would be best to find the three NASA pilots ground transport back to Edwards, to avoid any further problems.[22]

Armstrong made seven flights in the X-15. He reached a top altitude of 207,500 ft (63.2 km) in the X-15-3, and a top speed of Mach 5.74 (4,000 mph or 6,615 km/h) in the X-15-1, and he left the Dryden Flight Research Center with a total of 2,450 flying hours in more than 50 types of aircraft.[citation needed]

Astronaut career

Armstrong in an early (pre-Gemini) spacesuit.

There was no defining moment in Armstrong's decision to become an astronaut. In 1957, he was selected for the U.S. Air Force's Man In Space Soonest program. In November 1960 Armstrong was chosen as part of the pilot consultant group for the X-20 Dyna-Soar, a military space plane. On March 15, 1962 he was named as one of six pilot-engineers who would fly the space plane when it got off the design board.[23]

In the months after the announcement that applications were being sought for the second group of NASA astronauts, he became more and more excited about the prospect of the Apollo program and the prospect of investigating a new aeronautical environment. Armstrong's astronaut application had arrived about a week past the June 1, 1962 deadline. Dick Day, with whom Armstrong had worked closely at Edwards, worked at the Manned Spacecraft Center, saw the late arrival of the application, and slipped it into the pile before anyone noticed.[24] At Brooks City-Base at the end of June he underwent a medical exam that many of the applicants described as painful and at times seemingly pointless.[25]

Deke Slayton called Armstrong on September 13, 1962 and asked if he was interested in joining the NASA Astronaut Corps as part of what the press dubbed "the New Nine". Without hesitation, Armstrong said yes. The selections were kept secret until three days later, although newspaper reports had been circulating since the middle of summer that year that he would be selected as the "first civilian astronaut".[26] Armstrong did not actually become the first worldwide civilian to fly in space, since the Russians launched Valentina Tereshkova, a textile worker and amateur parachutist, aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963.

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Gemini program

Gemini 8

The crew assignments for Gemini 8 were announced on September 20, 1965, with Armstrong as Command Pilot with Pilot David Scott. Scott was the first member of the third group of astronauts to receive a prime crew assignment. The mission launched March 16, 1966. It was to be the most complex yet, with a rendezvous and docking with the unmanned Agena target vehicle, the second American (and third ever) extra-vehicular activity (EVA) (Armstrong himself dislikes the term "spacewalk") by Scott. In total the mission was planned to last 75 hours and 55 orbits. After the Agena lifted off at 10 a.m. EST, the Titan II carrying Armstrong and Scott ignited at 11:41:02 a.m. EST, putting them into an orbit from where they would chase the Agena.[27]

Recovery of the Gemini 8 spacecraft from the western Pacific Ocean.

The rendezvous and first ever docking between two spacecraft was successfully completed after 6.5 hours in orbit. Contact with the crew was intermittent due to the lack of tracking stations covering their entire orbits. Out of contact with the ground, the docked spacecraft began to roll, which Armstrong attempted to correct with the Orbital Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS) of the Gemini spacecraft. Following the earlier advice of Mission Control, they undocked, but found that the roll increased dramatically to the point where they were turning about once per second, which meant the problem was in their Gemini's attitude control. Armstrong decided the only course of action was to engage the Reentry Control System (RCS) and turn off the OAMS. Mission rules dictated that once this system was turned on, the spacecraft would have to reenter at the next possible opportunity. It was later thought that damaged wiring made one of the thrusters become stuck on.

Throughout the astronaut office there were a few people, most notably Walter Cunningham, who publicly stated that Armstrong and Scott had ignored the malfunction procedures for such an incident, and that Armstrong could have salvaged the mission if he had turned on only one of the two RCS rings and saved the other for mission objectives. These criticisms were unfounded – no malfunction procedures were written and it was only possible to turn on both RCS rings, not one or the other. Gene Kranz wrote, "the crew reacted as they were trained, and they reacted wrong because we trained them wrong." The mission planners and controllers had failed to realize that when two spacecraft are docked together they must be considered to be one spacecraft.[28]

Armstrong himself was depressed and annoyed[citation needed] that the mission had been cut short, which cancelled most mission objectives and robbed Scott of his EVA. Armstrong did not hear the criticism of other astronauts, but he did speculate after the flight that RCS activation might not have been necessary had the Gemini capsule stayed docked to the Agena – the Agena's attitude control system possibly could have been used to regain control.

Gemini 11

The last crew assignment for Armstrong during the Gemini program was as backup Command Pilot for Gemini 11, announced two days after the landing of Gemini 8. Having already trained for two flights, Armstrong was quite knowledgeable about the systems and was more in a teaching role[citation needed] for the rookie backup Pilot, William Anders. The launch was on September 12, 1966[citation needed] with Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon on board. The pair successfully completed the mission objectives, while Armstrong served as CAPCOM.

Following the flight, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Armstrong and his wife to take part in a 24-day goodwill tour of South America.[citation needed] Also on the tour were Dick Gordon, George Low, their wives, and other government officials. They traveled to 11 countries and 14 major cities. Armstrong impressed everyone involved when he greeted dignitaries in their local language.[citation needed] In Brazil he talked about the exploits of the Brazilian-born Alberto Santos-Dumont, regarded in the country as having beaten the Wright brothers with the first flying machine.

Apollo program

On January 27, 1967, the date of the Apollo 1 fire, Armstrong was in Washington, D.C. with Gordon Cooper, Dick Gordon, Jim Lovell and Scott Carpenter for the signing of the United Nations Outer Space Treaty. The astronauts chatted with the assembled dignitaries until 6:45 p.m. Carpenter went to the airport, and the others returned to the Georgetown Inn, where they each found messages to phone the Manned Spacecraft Center. They learned of the deaths of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee during these telephone calls. Armstrong and the group spent the rest of the night drinking scotch and discussing what had happened.[29]

On April 5, 1967, the same day the Apollo 1 investigation released its report on the fire, Armstrong assembled with 17 other astronauts for a meeting with Deke Slayton. The first thing Slayton said was, "The guys who are going to fly the first lunar missions are the guys in this room."[citation needed] According to Eugene Cernan, Armstrong showed no reaction to the statement. To Armstrong it came as no surprise — the room was full of veterans of Project Gemini, the only people who could fly the lunar missions. Slayton talked about the planned missions and named Armstrong to the backup crew for Apollo 9, which at that stage was planned to be a high-Earth orbit test of the Lunar Module-Command/Service Module combination. After design and manufacturing delays in the Lunar Module (LM), Apollo 9 and Apollo 8 swapped crews. Based on the normal crew rotation scheme, Armstrong would command Apollo 11.

To attempt to give the astronauts experience with how the LM would fly on its final landing descent, NASA commissioned Bell Aircraft to build two Lunar Landing Research Vehicles, later augmented with three Lunar Landing Training Vehicles (LLTV). Nicknamed the "Flying Bedsteads", they simulated the Moon's one-sixth of Earth's gravity by using a turbofan engine to support the remaining five-sixths of the craft's weight. On May 6, 1968, about 100 feet (30 m) above the ground, Armstrong's controls started to degrade and the LLTV began banking.[citation needed] He ejected safely (later analysis would suggest if he had ejected 0.5 seconds later, his parachute would not have opened in time). His only injury was from biting his tongue. Even though he was nearly killed on one, Armstrong maintains that without the LLRV and LLTV, the lunar landings would not have been successful as they gave commanders valuable experience in the behavior of lunar landing craft.[citation needed]

Apollo 11

The Apollo 11 crew portrait. Left to right are Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin.

After Armstrong served as backup commander for Apollo 8, Slayton offered him the post of commander of Apollo 11 on December 23, 1968, as 8 orbited the Moon. In a meeting that was not made public until the publication of Armstrong's biography in 2005, Slayton told him that although the planned crew was Armstrong as commander, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin and command module pilot Michael Collins, he was offering the chance to replace Aldrin with Jim Lovell. After thinking it over for a day, Armstrong told Slayton he would stick with Aldrin, as he had no difficulty working with him and thought Lovell deserved his own command. Replacing Aldrin with Lovell would have made Lovell the Lunar Module Pilot, unofficially ranked as number three on the crew. Armstrong could not justify placing Lovell, the commander of Gemini 12, in the number 3 position of the crew.

Initially, Aldrin thought that he would be first to walk on the Moon, based on the experience of Gemini; during that program, the pilot conducted the EVAs while the command pilot, who had greater responsibilities and less time to train for an EVA, stayed on board. However, when that actual procedure was tried with suited-up astronauts in an Apollo LM mockup, the LM was damaged – in order for Aldrin (LM Pilot) to get out first, he had to climb over Armstrong (commander) to get to the door.

A March 1969 meeting between Slayton, George Low, Bob Gilruth, and Chris Kraft determined that Armstrong would be the first person on the Moon, in some part because NASA management saw Armstrong as a person who did not have a large ego.[30] A press conference held on April 14, 1969 gave the design of the LM cabin as the reason for Armstrong being first; the hatch opened inwards and to the right, making it difficult for the lunar module pilot, on the right-hand side, to egress first. Slayton added, "Secondly, just on a pure protocol basis, I figured the commander ought to be the first guy out. . . . I changed it as soon as I found they had the time line that showed that. Bob Gilruth approved my decision."[31] At the time of their meeting, the four men did not know about the hatch issue. The first knowledge of the meeting outside the small group came when Kraft wrote his 2001 autobiography.[30]

On July 16, 1969, Armstrong received a crescent moon carved out of Styrofoam from the pad leader, Guenter Wendt, who described it as a key to the Moon. In return, Armstrong gave Wendt a ticket for a "space taxi" "good between two planets".

Voyage to the Moon

During the Apollo 11 launch, Armstrong's heart reached a top rate of 109 beats per minute. He found the first stage to be the loudest — much noisier than the Gemini 8 Titan II launch – and the Apollo CSM was relatively roomy compared to the confinement of the Gemini capsule. This ability to move around was suspected to be the cause of space sickness that had hit members of previous crews, but none of the Apollo 11 crew suffered from it. Armstrong was especially happy, as he had been prone to motion sickness as a child and could experience nausea after doing long periods of aerobatics.

The objective of Apollo 11 was to land safely rather than touch down with precision on a particular spot. Three minutes into the lunar descent burn he noted that craters were passing about two seconds too early, which meant the Eagle would likely land beyond the planned landing zone by several miles.[32] As the Eagle's landing radar acquired the surface, several computer error alarms appeared. The first was a code 1202 alarm and even with their extensive training Armstrong or Aldrin were not aware of what this code meant. However, they promptly received word from CAPCOM in Houston that the alarms were not a concern. The 1202 and 1201 alarms were caused by a processing overflow in the lunar module computer. As described by Buzz Aldrin in the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon, the overflow condition was caused by his own counter-checklist choice of leaving the docking radar on during the landing process. Aldrin stated that he did so with the objective of facilitating re-docking with the CM should an abort become necessary, not realizing that it would cause the overflow condition.

Aldrin took this picture of Armstrong in the cabin after the completion of the EVA.

Armstrong took over manual control of the LM, found an area which to him seemed safe for a landing and touched down on the moon at 20:17:39 UTC on July 20, 1969.[33] Some accounts of the Apollo 11 landing describe the LM's fuel situation as having been dire, with only a few seconds remaining when they touched down. Armstrong had landed the LLTV with less than 15 seconds left on several occasions and he was also confident the LM could survive a straight-down fall from 50 feet (15 m) if needed. Analysis after the mission showed that because of the moon's lower gravity, fuel had sloshed about in the tank more than anticipated, which led to a misleadingly low indication of the remaining propellant; at touchdown there were about 50 seconds of propellant burn time left.[citation needed]

When a sensor attached to the legs of the still hovering Lunar Module made lunar contact, a panel light inside the LM lit up and Aldrin called out, "Contact light." As the LM settled on the surface Aldrin then said, "Okay. Engine stop," and Armstrong said, "Shutdown." The first words Armstrong intentionally spoke to Mission Control and the world from the lunar surface were, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed". Aldrin and Armstrong celebrated with a brisk handshake and pat on the back before quickly returning to the checklist of tasks needed to ready the lunar module for liftoff from the Moon should an emergency unfold during the first moments on the lunar surface.[34][35][36] During the critical landing, the only message from Houston was "30 seconds", meaning the amount of fuel left. When Amstrong had confirmed touch down, Houston expressed their worries during the manual landing as "You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again".

Postage stamp commemorating Apollo 11. Armstrong is not honored "by portrayal" in accordance with U.S. Postal Service criteria pertaining to postage stamps not honoring living people.[37]
First Moon walk
See also: Apollo 11 — Lunar surface operations
A11v 1092338.ogg
Neil Armstrong describes the lunar surface before setting foot on it.

Although the official NASA flight plan called for a crew rest period before extra-vehicular activity, Armstrong requested that the EVA be moved earlier in the evening, Houston time. Once Armstrong and Aldrin were ready to go outside, Eagle was depressurized, the hatch was opened and Armstrong made his way down the ladder first.

At the bottom of the ladder, Armstrong said "I'm going to step off the LEM now" (referring to the Apollo Lunar Module). He then turned and set his left boot on the surface at 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969.[38] Then spoke the famous words "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." [39]

Problems listening to this file? See media help.

Armstrong had decided on this statement following a train of thought that he had had after launch and during the hours after landing.[40] Speaking the line, he accidentally dropped the "a", from his remark, rendering the phrase a contradiction (as man in such use is synonymous with mankind).[39] Armstrong later said he "would hope that history would grant me leeway for dropping the syllable and understand that it was certainly intended, even if it was not said – although it might actually have been." It has since been claimed that acoustic analysis of the recording reveals the presence of the missing "a".[39][41] A digital audio analysis conducted by Peter Shann Ford, an Australia-based computer programmer, claims that Armstrong did, in fact, say "a man", but the "a" was inaudible due to the limitations of communications technology of the time.[39][42][43][44] Ford and James R. Hansen, Armstrong's authorized biographer, presented these findings to Armstrong and NASA representatives, who conducted their own analysis.[45] The article by Ford, however, is published on Ford's own web site rather than in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and linguists David Beaver and Mark Liberman at Language Log were skeptical of Ford's claims.[46][47][48][49][50][51] Armstrong has expressed his preference that written quotations include the "a" in parentheses.[52]

Armstrong prepares to take the first step on the Moon.

When Armstrong made his proclamation, Voice of America was rebroadcast live via the BBC and many other stations the world over. The global audience at that moment was estimated at 450 million listeners,[53] out of a then estimated world population of 3.631 billion people.[54]

About 15 minutes after the first step, Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface and became the second human to set foot on the Moon. The duo began their tasks of investigating how easily a person could operate on the lunar surface. Early on they also unveiled a plaque commemorating their flight, and also planted the flag of the United States. The flag used on this mission had a metal rod to hold it horizontal from its pole. Since the rod did not fully extend, and the flag was tightly folded and packed during the journey, the flag ended up with a slightly wavy appearance, as if there were a breeze.[55] On Earth there had been some discussion as to whether it was appropriate to plant the flag at all. Armstrong has said that he personally did not think that any flag should have been left, but decided it wasn't worth making a big deal about. Slayton had warned Armstrong that they would receive a special communication, but did not tell him that President Richard Nixon would contact them just after the flag planting.

Armstrong works at the Apollo Lunar Module in one of the few photos showing him during the EVA.

In the entire Apollo 11 photographic record, there are only five images of Armstrong partly shown or reflected. The mission was planned to the minute, with the majority of photographic tasks to be performed by Armstrong with their single Hasselblad camera.[56] Aldrin has explained that there were plans to take a photo of Armstrong after the famous image of Aldrin was taken, but they were interrupted by the Nixon communication, which began just five minutes later.

After helping to set up the Early Apollo Scientific Experiment Package, Armstrong went for a walk to what is now known as East Crater, 65 yards (60 m) east of the LM, the greatest distance traveled from the LM on the mission. Armstrong's final task was to leave a small package of memorial items to deceased Soviet cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov, and Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. The time spent on EVA during Apollo 11 was about two-and-a-half hours, the shortest of any of the six Apollo lunar landing missions. Each of the subsequent five landings were allotted gradually longer periods for EVA activities. The crew of Apollo 17, by comparison, spent over 21 hours exploring the lunar surface.

Return to Earth

After they re-entered the LM, the hatch was closed and sealed. While preparing for the liftoff from the lunar surface, Armstrong and Aldrin discovered that in their bulky spacesuits, they had broken the ignition switch for the ascent engine. The ascent engine had no switch to fire. Using part of a pen, they pushed the circuit breaker in to activate the launch sequence. Aldrin still possesses the pen which they used to do this. (Aldrin has it kept in a glass case for all to see). The lunar module then continued to its rendezvous and docked with Columbia, the command and service module, and returned to Earth. The command module splashed down in the Pacific ocean and the Apollo 11 crew was picked up by the USS Hornet (CV-12).

The Apollo 11 crew and President Richard Nixon.

After being released from an 18-day quarantine to ensure that they had not picked up any infections or diseases from the Moon, the crew were feted across the United States and around the world as part of a 45-day "Giant Leap" tour. Armstrong then took part in Bob Hope's 1969 USO show, primarily to Vietnam.

In May 1970, Armstrong traveled to the Soviet Union to present a talk at the 13th annual conference of the International Committee on Space Research. Arriving in Leningrad from Poland, he traveled to Moscow where he met Premier Alexey Kosygin. He was the first westerner to see the supersonic Tupolev Tu-144 and was given a tour of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center, which Armstrong described as "a bit Victorian in nature." At the end of the day, he was surprised to view delayed video of the launch of Soyuz 9. It had not occurred to Armstrong that the mission was taking place, even though Valentina Tereshkova had been his host and her husband, Andriyan Nikolayev, was on board.[57]

Life after Apollo

Teaching

Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering at Purdue University.
Armstrong on July 16, 1999 at the Kennedy Space Center.

Armstrong announced shortly after the Apollo 11 flight that he did not plan to fly in space again. He was appointed Deputy Associate Administrator for aeronautics for the Office of Advanced Research and Technology (DARPA). He served in this position for only 13 months, and resigned from it and NASA as a whole in August 1971. He accepted a teaching position in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

He decided on Cincinnati over other universities, including his alma mater, Purdue, because it had a small Aerospace department; he hoped that the faculty members would not be annoyed that he came straight into a professorship with only the USC master's degree.[58] He began the work while stationed at Edwards years before, and he finally completed it after Apollo 11 by presenting a report on various aspects of Apollo, instead of a thesis on simulation of hypersonic flight. The official job title he received at Cincinnati was University Professor of Aerospace Engineering. After teaching for eight years, he resigned in 1979 due to other commitments and changes in the university structure from independent municipal school to state-school.[59]

NASA accident investigations

Armstrong served on two spaceflight accident investigations. The first was in 1970, after Apollo 13. As part of Edgar Cortwright's panel, he produced a detailed chronology of the flight. Armstrong personally opposed the report's recommendation to re-design the service module's oxygen tanks, the source of the explosion.[60] In 1986 President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Rogers Commission, which investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of that year. As vice-chairman, Armstrong was in charge of the operational side of the commission.[61]

Business activities

After Armstrong retired from NASA in 1971, he avoided offers from businesses to act as a spokesman. The first company to successfully approach him was Chrysler, for whom he appeared in advertising starting in January 1979. Armstrong thought they had a strong engineering division, plus they were in financial difficulty. He acted as a spokesman for other companies, including General Time Corporation and the Bankers Association of America. He only acts as a spokesman for United States businesses.[62]

Along with spokesman duties, he also served on the board of directors of several companies, including Marathon Oil, Learjet, Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company, Taft Broadcasting, United Airlines, Eaton Corporation, AIL Systems, and Thiokol. He joined Thiokol's board after he served on the Rogers Commission; Challenger was destroyed due to a problem with the Thiokol-manufactured Solid Rocket Boosters. He retired as chairman of the board of EDO Corporation in 2002.[63]

Personal life

The first man to walk on the Moon was also approached by political groups from both ends of the spectrum. Unlike former astronauts and United States Senators John Glenn and Harrison Schmitt, Armstrong has turned down all offers. Personally, he is in favor of states' rights and against the United States acting as the "world's policeman."[64] In 1971, Armstrong was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy at West Point for his service to the country.

In 1972, Armstrong was welcomed into the town of Langholm, Scotland, the traditional seat of Clan Armstrong. The astronaut was made the first freeman of the burgh, and happily declared the town his home.[65] The Justice of the Peace read from an unrepealed 400-year-old law that required him to hang any Armstrong found in the town.[66]

In the fall of 1979, Armstrong was working at his farm near Lebanon, Ohio. As he jumped off of the back of his grain truck, his wedding ring caught in the wheel, tearing off the tip of his ring finger. However, he calmly collected the severed digit, packed it in ice, and managed to have it reattached by microsurgeons at the Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.[67]

While skiing with friends at Aspen, Colorado in February 1991, he suffered a mild heart attack. It came a year after his father had died and nine months after the death of his mother.

Quincy Jones presents platinum copies of "Fly Me to the Moon" (from It Might as Well Be Swing) to Neil Armstrong (right) and Senator John Glenn on 24th September 2008.

Armstrong's first wife of 38 years, Janet, divorced him in 1994.[68] He met his second wife, Carol Held Knight, in 1992 at a golf tournament. Seated together at the breakfast, she said little to Armstrong, but a couple of weeks later, she received a call from him asking what she was doing. She replied she was cutting down a cherry tree, and 35 minutes later Armstrong was at her house to help out. They were married on June 12, 1994 in Ohio, and then had a second ceremony at San Ysidro Ranch in California.

Since 1994, Armstrong has refused all requests for autographs, after he found that his signed items were selling for large amounts of money and that many forgeries are in circulation. Often items reach prices of US$1,000 on auction sites like eBay. Signed photographs of the Apollo 11 crew can sell for $5,000. Any requests sent to him receive a form letter in reply saying that he has stopped signing. Although his no-autograph policy is well-known, author Andrew Smith observed people at the 2002 Reno Air Races still try to get signatures, with one person even claiming, "If you shove something close enough in front of his face, he'll sign."[69] Along with autographs, he has stopped sending out congratulatory letters to new Eagle Scouts. The reason is that he thinks these letters should come from people who know the Scout personally.[70]

Usage of Armstrong's name, image, and famous quote has caused him problems over the years. MTV wanted to use his quote for its now-famous ident depicting the Apollo 11 landing when it launched in 1981, but he declined.[71] Armstrong sued Hallmark Cards in 1994 after they used his name and a recording of "one small step" quote in a Christmas ornament without permission. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money which Armstrong donated to Purdue. The case caused Armstrong and NASA to be more careful about the usage of astronaut names, photographs and recordings, and to whom he has granted permission. For non-profit and government public-service announcements, he will usually give permission.

In May 2005 Armstrong became involved in an unusual legal battle with his barber of 20 years, Marx Sizemore. After cutting Armstrong's hair, Sizemore sold some of it to a collector for $3,000 without Armstrong's knowledge or permission. Armstrong threatened legal action unless the barber returned the hair or donated the proceeds to a charity of Armstrong's choosing. Sizemore, unable to get the hair back, decided to donate the proceeds to the charity of Armstrong's choice.[72]

Legacy

Michael Collins, President George W. Bush, Armstrong, and Aldrin in the White House Oval Office during celebrations of the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight, July 21, 2004
Armstrong and presidential dog Barney in the White House Garden Room, July 2004

Armstrong has received many honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy, the Sylvanus Thayer Award, the Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautics Association, and the Congressional Gold Medal. The lunar crater Armstrong, 50 km (31 miles) from the Apollo 11 landing site, and asteroid 6469 Armstrong[73] are named in his honor. Armstrong was also inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Throughout the United States, there are more than a dozen elementary, middle and high schools named in his honor.[74] Many places around the world have streets, buildings, schools, and other places named for Armstrong and/or Apollo.[75] In 1969, folk songwriter and singer John Stewart recorded "Armstrong", a tribute to Armstrong and his first steps on the moon.

Purdue University announced in October 2004 that their new engineering building would be named Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering in his honor.[76] The building cost $53.2 million and was dedicated on October 27, 2007. Armstrong was joined by fourteen other Purdue Astronauts at the ceremony.[77] The Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum is located in his hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio, although it has no official ties to Armstrong, and the airport in New Knoxville where he took his first flying lessons is named for him.[78]

Armstrong's authorized biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, was published in 2005. For many years, Armstrong turned down biography offers from authors such as Stephen Ambrose and James A. Michener. He agreed to work with James R. Hansen after reading one of Hansen's other biographies.[79]

The press often asks Armstrong for his views on the future of spaceflight. In 2005, Armstrong said that a manned mission to Mars will be easier than the lunar challenge of the 1960s: "I suspect that even though the various questions are difficult and many, they are not as difficult and many as those we faced when we started the Apollo [space program] in 1961." Armstrong also recalled his initial concerns about the Apollo 11 mission. He had believed there was only a 50 percent chance of landing on the moon. "I was elated, ecstatic and extremely surprised that we were successful", he said.

See also

Bibliography

Notes

  1. ^ "History of Wapakoneta, OH". http://www.wapakoneta.net/node/3. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  2. ^ Hansen, pages 49–50.
  3. ^ "Distinguished Eagle Scouts". Troop & Pack 179. http://members.cox.net/scouting179/Eagle%20Distinguished.htm. Retrieved 2008-09-20. 
  4. ^ [1] Phi Delta Theta international site
  5. ^ [2] Kappa Kappa Psi website
  6. ^ Hansen, p. 55.
  7. ^ NASA (2009). Worldbook at NASA - Neil Armstrong. Retrieved July 14, 2009.
  8. ^ Hansen, ch. 7.
  9. ^ Hansen ch. 8.
  10. ^ Hansen, ch. 9.
  11. ^ Hansen, page 112.
  12. ^ Hansen, p. 118.
  13. ^ Hansen, p. 62.
  14. ^ Hansen, pages 124–127.
  15. ^ Hansen, p. 128.
  16. ^ Hansen ch. 14.
  17. ^ Hansen, ch. 11.
  18. ^ Hansen, page 145.
  19. ^ Hansen, pages 178–184.
  20. ^ Hansen, pages 184–189.
  21. ^ Hansen, pages 138–139.
  22. ^ Hansen, pages 189–192.
  23. ^ Hansen, p. 173.
  24. ^ Hansen, page 195.
  25. ^ Hansen, p. 203.
  26. ^ Hansen, p. 201–202.
  27. ^ Hansen, ch. 19.
  28. ^ Kranz, p. 174.
  29. ^ Lovell, Jim; Kluger, Jeffrey (2000). Apollo 13. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 24–25. ISBN 0-618-05665-3. 
  30. ^ a b Hansen, chapter 25.
  31. ^ Expeditions to the Moon, chapter 8, p. 7.
  32. ^ Smith, Andrew (2006). Moon Dust (Paperback ed.). Bloomsbury. p. 11. ISBN 0-7475-6369-1. 
  33. ^ Jones, Eric M.. "The First Lunar Landing, time 109:24:48". http://www.history.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/a11.step.html.  The accuracy to the second of Apollo 11 events differs in different NASA logs.
  34. ^ Jones. "The First Lunar Landing, time 1:02:45". http://www.history.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/a11.landing.html. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  35. ^ "Mission Transcripts, Apollo 11 AS11 PA0.pdf". http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/history/mission_trans/apollo11.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  36. ^ "Apollo 11 Mission Commentary 7-20-69 CDT 15:15 - GET 102:43 - TAPE 307/1". http://history.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/a11transcript_pao.htm. 
  37. ^ "Charter". Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee. United States Postal Service. January 2007. http://www.usps.com/communications/organization/csac.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  38. ^ David Harland Exploring the Moon: The Apollo Expeditions. 1999, ISBN 1-85233-099-6
  39. ^ a b c d Mikkelson, Barbara; David Mikkelson (October 2006). "One Small Misstep: Neil Armstrong's First Words on the Moon". Snopes.com. Urban Legends Reference Pages. pp. 1. http://www.snopes.com/quotes/onesmall.asp. Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  40. ^ Hansen, James (2006-10-03). "Armstrong's Abbreviated Article: Notes from the Expert". Language Log. http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/%7Emyl/languagelog/archives/003635.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  41. ^ Goddard, Jacqui (2006-10-02). "One small word is one giant sigh of relief for Armstrong". The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article657515.ece. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  42. ^ Ford, Peter Shann (2006-09-17). "Electronic Evidence and Physiological Reasoning Identifying the Elusive Vowel "a" in Neil Armstrong's Statement on First Stepping onto the Lunar Surface" (reprint). CollectSpace.com. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-100306a.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  43. ^ "Software finds missing 'a' in Armstrong's moon quote". CNN.com (Associated Press). 2006-10-01. Archived from the original on 2006-10-04. http://web.archive.org/web/20061004151135/http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/09/30/moon.quote.ap/index.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  44. ^ "Software revises Armstrong's moon quote". ABCNews.com (Associated Press). 2006-09-30. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2512668. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  45. ^ Smith, Veronica (2006-10-02). "Armstrong's Moon landing speech rewritten". Cosmos Magazine. Agence France-Presse. http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/717. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  46. ^ Language Log. "One small step backwards". http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/%7Emyl/languagelog/archives/003630.html.  (including audio)
  47. ^ Language Log. "One 75-millisecond step before a "man"". http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/%7Emyl/languagelog/archives/003632.html. 
  48. ^ Language Log. "Armstrong's abbreviated article: the smoking gun?". http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003634.html. 
  49. ^ Language Log. "Armstrong's abbreviated article: notes from the expert". http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/%7Emyl/languagelog/archives/003635.html. 
  50. ^ Language Log. "First Korean on the moon!". http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003639.html. 
  51. ^ Language Log. "What Neil Armstrong said". http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003645.html. 
  52. ^ Carreau, Mark (2006-09-29). "High-tech analysis may rewrite space history". Houston Chronicle. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4225505.html. Retrieved 2006-09-30. 
  53. ^ Alan L. Heil. Voice of America: A History. 2003, ISBN 0-231-12674-3
  54. ^ "Information Please world statistics". http://www.infoplease.com/year/1969.html. Retrieved 2007-10-02. 
  55. ^ Greene, Nick. "A Lunar Odyssey". Apollo 11 Mission. About.com. p. 3. http://space.about.com/cs/missions/a/apollo11_3.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  56. ^ "AS11-40-5886" Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.
  57. ^ Hansen, pp 582–584.
  58. ^ "Apollo 11 Crew Information". Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal. NASA. 2005-11-01. http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/a11.crew.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  59. ^ Hansen, pages 590–594.
  60. ^ Hansen, pages 60–603.
  61. ^ Hansen, pages 610–616.
  62. ^ Hansen, pages 595–596.
  63. ^ EDO Corporation (2000-02-08). "EDO Corporation CEO James M. Smith to become Chairman upon retirement of Neil A. Armstrong". Press release. http://www.edocorp.com/pr2002/02r0208.htm. Retrieved 2006-07-01. 
  64. ^ Hansen, pages 600–601.
  65. ^ Johnston, Willie (2009-07-20). "Recalling Moon man's 'muckle' leap". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8158762.stm. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  66. ^ Hansen, p. 13.
  67. ^ Sawyer, Kathy (1999-07-11). "Armstrong's Code". The Washington Post Magazine. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/space/armstrong1.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  68. ^ CBS News web site
  69. ^ Smith, p. 134.
  70. ^ Hansen, p. 623.
  71. ^ "Birth of an MTV Nation". http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2000/11/mtv200011?printable=true&currentPage=allPittman. 
  72. ^ Rosenberg, Jennifer (2005-06-05). "Barber Sold Neil Armstrong's Hair". About.com. http://history1900s.about.com/b/a/176268.htm. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  73. ^ "Discovery Circumstances: Numbered Minor Planets (5001)-(10000): 6469 Armstrong". IAU: Minor Planet Center. http://scully.cfa.harvard.edu/~cgi/ShowCitation.COM?num=006469. Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  74. ^ "Search for Public School". http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch/school_list.asp?Search=1&InstName=neil+armstrong&SchoolID=&Address=&City=&State=&Zip=&Miles=&County=&PhoneAreaCode=&Phone=&DistrictName=&DistrictID=&SchoolType=1&SchoolType=2&SchoolType=3&SchoolType=4&SpecificSchlTypes=all&IncGrade=-1&LoGrade=-1&HiGrade=-1. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  75. ^ "Ireland: What's in a name? Cold, hard cash". The Times. 2002-12-22. http://property.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/property/article804378.ece. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  76. ^ Holsapple, Matt (2004-10-16). "Purdue launching Neil Armstrong Hall for engineering's future". Purdue University News. Purdue University. http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html3month/2004/041016.Jischke.Armstrong.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  77. ^ Venere, Emil (2007-10-27). "Neil Armstrong Hall is new home to Purdue engineering". Purdue University News. Purdue University. http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2007b/071027CelArmstrongDedication.html. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  78. ^ Knight, Andy (Winter 2000). "To the moon: Armstrong space museum offers history lessons on space travel". Cincinnati.Com. http://www.cincinnati.com/visitorsguide/stories/012800_moon.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  79. ^ John McGauley (14 October 2005). "Discovering the Man Behind 'First Man'". collectSPACE.com. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-013003b.html#100305. 

External links

Preceded by
Ellsworth Bunker
Sylvanus Thayer Award recipient
1971
Succeeded by
Billy Graham

Neil Armstrong
File:Neil Armstrong
File:Neil Armstrong
USAF / NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Retired
Born August 5, 1930 (1930-08-05) (age 80)
Wapakoneta, Ohio, U.S.
Previous occupation Naval aviator, Test pilot
Time in space 8 days, 14 hours, 12 minutes and 31 seconds
Selection 1957 MISS Group; 1960 Dyna-Soar; 1962 NASA Astronaut Group 2
Total EVAs 1
Total EVA time 2 hours 31 minutes
Missions Gemini 8, Apollo 11
Mission insignia File:Ge08Patch File:Apollo 11
Neil Alden Armstrong (born August 5, 1930) is an American aviator and a former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, and United States Naval Aviator. He was the first person to set foot on the Moon. His first spaceflight was aboard Gemini 8 in 1966, for which he was the command pilot, becoming one of the first U.S. civilians to fly in space (Joseph Albert Walker became the first US civilian in space aboard X-15 Flight 90 several years earlier).[1][2] On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft together with pilot David Scott. Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 20, 1969. On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module. Armstrong is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was in the United States Navy and saw action in the Korean War. After the war, he served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he flew over 900 flights in a variety of aircraft. As a research pilot, Armstrong served as project pilot on the F-100 Super Sabre A and C aircraft, F-101 Voodoo, and the Lockheed F-104A Starfighter. He also flew the Bell X-1B, Bell X-5, North American X-15, F-105 Thunderchief, F-106 Delta Dart, B-47 Stratojet, KC-135 Stratotanker and Paresev. He graduated from Purdue University and the University of Southern California.

Contents

Early years

Neil Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, the son of Stephen Koenig Armstrong and Viola Louise Engel.[3][4] He had two younger siblings, June and Dean. He is of Scots-Irish and German descent. Stephen Armstrong worked for the Ohio government, and the family moved around the state repeatedly in the 15 years following Armstrong's birth, living in 20 different towns. His father's last forced move was to Wapakoneta in 1944. By this time, Armstrong was active in the Boy Scouts and he eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout. As an adult, he would be recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with their Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Silver Buffalo Award.[5] In Wapakoneta, he attended Blume High School.

In 1947, Armstrong began studying aerospace engineering at Purdue University, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta[6] and Kappa Kappa Psi.[7] He was only the second person in his family to attend college. He was also accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but the only engineer he knew (who had attended MIT) dissuaded him from attending, telling Armstrong that it was not necessary to go all the way to Cambridge, Massachusetts for a good education.[8] His college tuition was paid for under the Holloway Plan; successful applicants committed to four years of study, followed by three years of service in the United States Navy, then completion of the final two years of the degree. At Purdue, he received average marks in his subjects, with a GPA that rose and fell over the eight semesters. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1955, and a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970.[9] He holds honorary doctorates from a number of universities.

Navy service

Armstrong's call-up from the Navy arrived on January 26, 1949, and required him to report to Naval Air Station Pensacola for flight training. This lasted almost 18 months, during which time he qualified for carrier landing aboard the USS Cabot and USS Wright. On August 12, 1950, a week after his 20th birthday, he was informed by letter he was now a fully qualified Naval Aviator.[10]

His first assignment was to Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 7 at NAS San Diego (now known as NAS North Island). Two months later he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 51 (VF-51), an all-jet squadron. He would make his first flight in a jet, an F9F-2B Panther on January 5, 1951. Six months later, he made his first jet carrier landing on the USS Essex. The same week he was promoted from midshipman to ensign. By the end of the month, the Essex had set sail with VF-51 aboard, bound for Korea, where they would act as ground-attack aircraft.[11] He made over 600 flights in a variety of aircraft.[citation needed]

Armstrong first saw action in the Korean War on August 29, 1951,[citation needed] as an escort for a photo reconnaissance plane over Songjin. The principal targets for the flight were freight yards and a bridge on a narrow valley road south of the village of Majon-ni, west of Wonsan. Later, on September 3, 1951, while he was making a low bombing run at about 350 mph (560 km/h), Armstrong's F9F Panther was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The plane took a nose dive, and sliced through a cable strung across the valley by the North Koreans at a height of about 500 ft (150 m). This sheared off an estimated six feet (2 m) of its right wing.[citation needed]

Armstrong was able to fly the plane back to friendly territory, but could not land the plane safely due to the loss of the aileron, which left ejection as his only option. He planned to eject over water and await rescue by navy helicopters, so he flew to an airfield near Pohang. Instead of a water rescue, winds forced his ejection seat back over land. Armstrong was picked up by a jeep driven by a roommate from flight school. It is unknown what happened to the wreckage of No. 125122 F9F-2.[12]

Armstrong flew 78 missions over Korea for a total of 121 hours in the air, most of which was in January 1952. He received the Air Medal for 20 combat missions, a Gold Star for the next 20, and the Korean Service Medal and Engagement Star.[13] Armstrong left the navy at the age of 22 on August 23, 1952, and became a Lieutenant, Junior Grade in the United States Naval Reserve. He resigned his commission in the Naval Reserve on October 20, 1960.[14]

College years

Armstrong returned to Purdue after he separated from the Navy, and his best grades at the university came in the four semesters following his return from Korea. He pledged the Phi Delta Theta fraternity after his return, where he wrote and co-directed their musical as part of the all-student revue. His final GPA was 4.8 out of 6.0.[15] He was also a member of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity. Armstrong graduated with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1955.[citation needed]

While at Purdue, he met Janet Elizabeth Shearon, who was majoring in home economics. According to the two there was no real courtship, and neither can remember the exact circumstances of their engagement, except that it occurred while Armstrong was working at the NACA's Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory. They were married on January 28, 1956 at the Congregational Church in Wilmette, Illinois. When he moved to Edwards Air Force Base, he lived in the bachelor quarters of the base, while Janet lived in the Westwood district of Los Angeles. After one semester, they moved into a house in Antelope Valley. Janet never finished her degree, a fact she regretted later in life.[16]

The couple had three children together – Eric, Karen, and Mark.[17] In June 1961, Karen was diagnosed with a malignant tumor of the middle part of her brain stem. X-ray treatment slowed its growth but her health deteriorated to the point where she could no longer walk or talk. Karen died of pneumonia, related to her weakened health, on January 28, 1962.[18]

Test pilot

File:Neil Armstrong 1956
A portrait of Armstrong taken November 20, 1956 while he was a test pilot at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

After he graduated from Purdue, Armstrong decided to try to become an experimental, research test pilot. He applied at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base, which had no open positions. They did, however, forward his application to the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio where Armstrong began working at Lewis Field in February 1955.[19]

Armstrong flew his first assignments on his first day at Edwards, piloting chase planes on drops of experimental aircraft from converted bombers. He also flew the converted bombers, and on one of these missions had his first flight incident at Edwards. Armstrong was in the right-hand seat of a B-29 Superfortress on March 22, 1956,[citation needed] which was to air-drop a Douglas Skyrocket D-558-2. As the right-hand seat pilot, Armstrong was in charge of the payload release, while the left-hand seat commander, Stan Butchart, flew the B-29.

As they ascended to 30,000 ft (9 km), the number four engine stopped and the propeller began windmilling in the airstream. Hitting the switch that would stop the propeller spinning, Butchart found the propeller slowed but then started spinning again, this time even faster than the other engines; if it spun too fast, it would fly apart. Their aircraft needed to hold an airspeed of 210 mph (338 km/h) to launch its Skyrocket payload, and the B-29 could not land with the Skyrocket still attached to its belly. Armstrong and Butchart nosed the aircraft down to pick up speed, then launched the Skyrocket. At the very instant of launch, the number four engine propeller disintegrated. Pieces of it careened through part of the number three engine and hit the number two engine. Butchart and Armstrong were forced to shut down the number three engine, due to damage, and the number one engine, due to the torque it created. They made a slow, circling descent from 30,000 ft (9,000 m) using only the number two engine, and landed safely.

Armstrong's first flight in a rocket plane was on August 15, 1957, in the Bell X-1B, to an altitude of 11.4 miles (18.3 km). He broke the nose landing gear when he landed, which had happened on about a dozen previous flights of the aircraft due to the aircraft's design.[20] He first flew the North American X-15 on November 30, 1960, to a top altitude of 48,840 ft (14.9 km) and a top speed of Mach 1.75 (1,150 mph or 1,810 km/h).[citation needed]

File:Pilot Neil Armstrong and X-15 -1 -
Armstrong stands next to the X-15 ship#1 after a research flight.

Armstrong was involved in several incidents that went down in Edwards folklore and/or were chronicled in the memoirs of colleagues. The first was an X-15 flight on April 20, 1962, when Armstrong was testing a self-adjusting control system. He flew to a height of 207,000 ft (63 km), (the highest he flew before Gemini 8), but he held the aircraft nose up too long during descent, and the X-15 literally bounced off the atmosphere back up to 140,000 ft (43 km). At that altitude, the atmosphere is so thin that aerodynamic surfaces have no effect. He flew past the landing field at Mach 3 (2,000 mph, or 3,200 km/h) and over 100,000 ft (30.5 km) altitude. He ended up 45 miles (72 km) south of Edwards (legend has that he flew as far as the Rose Bowl). After sufficient descent, he turned back toward the landing area, and barely managed to land without striking Joshua trees at the south end. It was the longest X-15 flight in both time and distance of the ground track.[21]

A second incident happened when Armstrong flew for the only time with Chuck Yeager, four days after his X-15 adventure. Flying a T-33 Shooting Star, their job was to test out Smith Ranch Dry Lake for use as an emergency landing site for the X-15. In his autobiography, Yeager wrote that he knew the lake bed was unsuitable for landings after recent rains, but Armstrong insisted on flying out anyway. As they made a Touch-and-Go, the wheels became stuck and they had to wait for rescue. Armstrong tells a different version of events, where Yeager never tried to talk him out of it and they made a first successful landing on the east side of the lake. Then Yeager told him to try again, this time a bit slower. On the second landing they became stuck and according to Armstrong, Yeager was in fits of laughter.[22]

Many of the test pilots at Edwards praised Armstrong's engineering ability. Milt Thompson said he was "the most technically capable of the early X-15 pilots." Bruce Peterson said Armstrong "had a mind that absorbed things like a sponge." Those who flew for the Air Force tended to have a different opinion, especially people like Chuck Yeager and Pete Knight who did not have engineering degrees. Knight said that pilot-engineers flew in a way that was "more mechanical than it is flying," and gave this as the reason why some pilot-engineers got into trouble: their flying skills did not come naturally.[23]

On May 21, 1962, Armstrong was involved in what Edwards' folklore called the "Nellis Affair." He was sent in an F-104 to inspect Delamar Lake, again for emergency landings. He misjudged his altitude, and also did not realize that the landing gear hadn't fully extended. As he touched down, the landing gear began to retract. Armstrong applied full power to abort the landing, but the ventral fin and landing gear door struck the ground, which damaged the radio and released hydraulic fluid. Without radio communication, Armstrong flew to Nellis Air Force Base, past the control tower, and waggled his tail, the signal for a no-radio approach. The loss of hydraulic fluid caused the tail-hook to release, and upon landing he caught the arresting wire attached to an anchor chain, and careened along the runway dragging chain. Thirty minutes were needed to clear the runway and rig an arresting cable. Meanwhile, Armstrong telephoned Edwards and asked for someone to pick him up. Milt Thompson was sent in an F-104B, the only two-seater available, but a plane Thompson had never flown. With great difficulty, Thompson made it to Nellis, but a strong crosswind caused a hard landing and the left main tire suffered a blowout. The runway was again closed to clear it. Bill Dana was sent to Nellis in a T-33 Shooting Star, but he almost landed long. The Nellis base operations office decided that it would be best to find the three NASA pilots ground transport back to Edwards, to avoid any further problems.[24]

Armstrong made seven flights in the X-15. He reached a top altitude of 207,500 ft (63.2 km) in the X-15-3, and a top speed of Mach 5.74 (4,000 mph or 6,615 km/h) in the X-15-1, and he left the Dryden Flight Research Center with a total of 2,450 flying hours in more than 50 types of aircraft.[citation needed]

Astronaut career

File:Neil Armstrong pre Gemini
Armstrong in an early Gemini spacesuit.

There was no defining moment in Armstrong's decision to become an astronaut. In 1957, he was selected for the U.S. Air Force's Man In Space Soonest program. In November 1960 Armstrong was chosen as part of the pilot consultant group for the X-20 Dyna-Soar, a military space plane. On March 15, 1962 he was named as one of six pilot-engineers who would fly the space plane when it got off the design board.[25]

In the months after the announcement that applications were being sought for the second group of NASA astronauts, he became more and more excited about the prospect of the Apollo program and the prospect of investigating a new aeronautical environment. Armstrong's astronaut application had arrived about a week past the June 1, 1962 deadline. Dick Day, with whom Armstrong had worked closely at Edwards, worked at the Manned Spacecraft Center, saw the late arrival of the application, and slipped it into the pile before anyone noticed.[26] At Brooks City-Base at the end of June he underwent a medical exam that many of the applicants described as painful and at times seemingly pointless.[27]

Deke Slayton called Armstrong on September 13, 1962 and asked if he was interested in joining the NASA Astronaut Corps as part of what the press dubbed "the New Nine". Without hesitation, Armstrong said yes. The selections were kept secret until three days later, although newspaper reports had been circulating since the middle of summer that year that he would be selected as the "first civilian astronaut".[28] Armstrong did not actually become the first worldwide civilian to fly in space, since the Russians launched Valentina Tereshkova, a textile worker and amateur parachutist, aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963.

Gemini program

Gemini 8

The crew assignments for Gemini 8 were announced on September 20, 1965, with Armstrong as Command Pilot with Pilot David Scott. Scott was the first member of the third group of astronauts to receive a prime crew assignment. The mission launched March 16, 1966. It was to be the most complex yet, with a rendezvous and docking with the unmanned Agena target vehicle, the second American (and third ever) extra-vehicular activity (EVA) (Armstrong himself dislikes the term "spacewalk") by Scott. In total the mission was planned to last 75 hours and 55 orbits. After the Agena lifted off at 10 a.m. EST, the Titan II carrying Armstrong and Scott ignited at 11:41:02 a.m. EST, putting them into an orbit from where they would chase the Agena.[29]

File:Armstrong and Scott with Hatches Open -
Recovery of the Gemini 8 spacecraft from the western Pacific Ocean.

The rendezvous and first ever docking between two spacecraft was successfully completed after 6.5 hours in orbit. Contact with the crew was intermittent due to the lack of tracking stations covering their entire orbits. Out of contact with the ground, the docked spacecraft began to roll, which Armstrong attempted to correct with the Orbital Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS) of the Gemini spacecraft. Following the earlier advice of Mission Control, they undocked, but found that the roll increased dramatically to the point where they were turning about once per second, which meant the problem was in their Gemini's attitude control. Armstrong decided the only course of action was to engage the Reentry Control System (RCS) and turn off the OAMS. Mission rules dictated that once this system was turned on, the spacecraft would have to reenter at the next possible opportunity. It was later thought that damaged wiring made one of the thrusters become stuck on.

Throughout the astronaut office there were a few people, most notably Walter Cunningham, who publicly stated that Armstrong and Scott had ignored the malfunction procedures for such an incident, and that Armstrong could have salvaged the mission if he had turned on only one of the two RCS rings and saved the other for mission objectives. These criticisms were unfounded – no malfunction procedures were written and it was only possible to turn on both RCS rings, not one or the other. Gene Kranz wrote, "the crew reacted as they were trained, and they reacted wrong because we trained them wrong." The mission planners and controllers had failed to realize that when two spacecraft are docked together they must be considered to be one spacecraft.[30]

Armstrong himself was depressed and annoyed[citation needed] that the mission had been cut short, which cancelled most mission objectives and robbed Scott of his EVA. Armstrong did not hear the criticism of other astronauts, but he did speculate after the flight that RCS activation might not have been necessary had the Gemini capsule stayed docked to the Agena – the Agena's attitude control system possibly could have been used to regain control.

Gemini 11

The last crew assignment for Armstrong during the Gemini program was as backup Command Pilot for Gemini 11, announced two days after the landing of Gemini 8. Having already trained for two flights, Armstrong was quite knowledgeable about the systems and was more in a teaching role[citation needed] for the rookie backup Pilot, William Anders. The launch was on September 12, 1966[31] with Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon on board. The pair successfully completed the mission objectives, while Armstrong served as CAPCOM.

Following the flight, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Armstrong and his wife to take part in a 24-day goodwill tour of South America.[citation needed] Also on the tour were Dick Gordon, George Low, their wives, and other government officials. They traveled to 11 countries and 14 major cities. Armstrong impressed everyone involved when he greeted dignitaries in their local language.[citation needed] In Brazil he talked about the exploits of the Brazilian-born Alberto Santos-Dumont, regarded in the country as having beaten the Wright brothers with the first flying machine.

Apollo program

On January 27, 1967, the date of the Apollo 1 fire, Armstrong was in Washington, D.C. with Gordon Cooper, Dick Gordon, Jim Lovell and Scott Carpenter for the signing of the United Nations Outer Space Treaty. The astronauts chatted with the assembled dignitaries until 6:45 p.m. Carpenter went to the airport, and the others returned to the Georgetown Inn, where they each found messages to phone the Manned Spacecraft Center. They learned of the deaths of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee during these telephone calls. Armstrong and the group spent the rest of the night drinking scotch and discussing what had happened.[32]

On April 5, 1967, the same day the Apollo 1 investigation released its report on the fire, Armstrong assembled with 17 other astronauts for a meeting with Deke Slayton. The first thing Slayton said was, "The guys who are going to fly the first lunar missions are the guys in this room."[33] According to Eugene Cernan, Armstrong showed no reaction to the statement. To Armstrong it came as no surprise — the room was full of veterans of Project Gemini, the only people who could fly the lunar missions. Slayton talked about the planned missions and named Armstrong to the backup crew for Apollo 9, which at that stage was planned to be a high-Earth orbit test of the Lunar Module-Command/Service Module combination. After design and manufacturing delays in the Lunar Module (LM), Apollo 9 and Apollo 8 swapped crews. Based on the normal crew rotation scheme, Armstrong would command Apollo 11.

To attempt to give the astronauts experience with how the LM would fly on its final landing descent, NASA commissioned Bell Aircraft to build two Lunar Landing Research Vehicles, later augmented with three Lunar Landing Training Vehicles (LLTV). Nicknamed the "Flying Bedsteads", they simulated the Moon's one-sixth of Earth's gravity by using a turbofan engine to support the remaining five-sixths of the craft's weight. On May 6, 1968, about 100 feet (30 m) above the ground, Armstrong's controls started to degrade and the LLTV began banking.[citation needed] He ejected safely (later analysis would suggest if he had ejected 0.5 seconds later, his parachute would not have opened in time). His only injury was from biting his tongue. Even though he was nearly killed on one, Armstrong maintains that without the LLRV and LLTV, the lunar landings would not have been successful as they gave commanders valuable experience in the behavior of lunar landing craft.[citation needed]

Apollo 11

[[File:|thumb|left|300px|The Apollo 11 crew portrait. Left to right are Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin.]]

After Armstrong served as backup commander for Apollo 8, Slayton offered him the post of commander of Apollo 11 on December 23, 1968, as 8 orbited the Moon. In a meeting that was not made public until the publication of Armstrong's biography in 2005, Slayton told him that although the planned crew was Armstrong as commander, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin and command module pilot Michael Collins, he was offering the chance to replace Aldrin with Jim Lovell. After thinking it over for a day, Armstrong told Slayton he would stick with Aldrin, as he had no difficulty working with him and thought Lovell deserved his own command. Replacing Aldrin with Lovell would have made Lovell the Lunar Module Pilot, unofficially ranked as number three on the crew. Armstrong could not justify placing Lovell, the commander of Gemini 12, in the number 3 position of the crew.

Initially, Aldrin thought that he would be first to walk on the Moon, based on the experience of Gemini; during that program, the pilot conducted the EVAs while the command pilot, who had greater responsibilities and less time to train for an EVA, stayed on board. However, when that actual procedure was tried with suited-up astronauts in an Apollo LM mockup, the LM was damaged – in order for Aldrin (LM Pilot) to get out first, he had to climb over Armstrong (commander) to get to the door.

A March 1969 meeting between Slayton, George Low, Bob Gilruth, and Chris Kraft determined that Armstrong would be the first person on the Moon, in some part because NASA management saw Armstrong as a person who did not have a large ego.[34] A press conference held on April 14, 1969 gave the design of the LM cabin as the reason for Armstrong being first; the hatch opened inwards and to the right, making it difficult for the lunar module pilot, on the right-hand side, to egress first. Slayton added, "Secondly, just on a pure protocol basis, I figured the commander ought to be the first guy out. . . . I changed it as soon as I found they had the time line that showed that. Bob Gilruth approved my decision."[35] At the time of their meeting, the four men did not know about the hatch issue. The first knowledge of the meeting outside the small group came when Kraft wrote his 2001 autobiography.[34]

On July 16, 1969, Armstrong received a crescent moon carved out of Styrofoam from the pad leader, Guenter Wendt, who described it as a key to the Moon. In return, Armstrong gave Wendt a ticket for a "space taxi" "good between two planets".

Voyage to the Moon
File:Neil
Aldrin took this picture of Armstrong in the cabin after the completion of the EVA.

During the Apollo 11 launch, Armstrong's heart reached a top rate of 109 beats per minute. He found the first stage to be the loudest — much noisier than the Gemini 8 Titan II launch – and the Apollo CSM was relatively roomy compared to the confinement of the Gemini capsule. This ability to move around was suspected to be the cause of space sickness that had hit members of previous crews, but none of the Apollo 11 crew suffered from it. Armstrong was especially happy, as he had been prone to motion sickness as a child and could experience nausea after doing long periods of aerobatics.

The objective of Apollo 11 was to land safely rather than touch down with precision on a particular spot. Three minutes into the lunar descent burn he noted that craters were passing about two seconds too early, which meant the Eagle would likely land beyond the planned landing zone by several miles.[36] As the Eagle's landing radar acquired the surface, several computer error alarms appeared. The first was a code 1202 alarm and even with their extensive training Armstrong or Aldrin were not aware of what this code meant. However, they promptly received word from CAPCOM in Houston that the alarms were not a concern. The 1202 and 1201 alarms were caused by an executive overflow in the lunar module computer. As described by Buzz Aldrin in the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon, the overflow condition was caused by his own counter-checklist choice of leaving the docking radar on during the landing process, so the computer had to process unnecessary radar data and did not have enough time to execute all tasks, dropping lower-priority ones. Aldrin stated that he did so with the objective of facilitating re-docking with the CM should an abort become necessary, not realizing that it would cause the overflow condition.

File:First Man on Moon 1969
First Moon Landing issue commemorating Apollo 11. Armstrong is not honored "by portrayal" in accordance with USPS criteria pertaining to postage issues not honoring living people.[37]

Armstrong took over manual control of the LM, found an area which to him seemed safe for a landing and touched down on the moon at 20:17:39 UTC on July 20, 1969.[38] Some accounts of the Apollo 11 landing describe the LM's fuel situation as having been dire, with only a few seconds remaining when they touched down. Armstrong had landed the LLTV with less than 15 seconds left on several occasions and he was also confident the LM could survive a straight-down fall from 50 feet (15 m) if needed. Analysis after the mission showed that because of the moon's lower gravity, fuel had sloshed about in the tank more than anticipated, which led to a misleadingly low indication of the remaining propellant; at touchdown there were about 50 seconds of propellant burn time left.[citation needed]

When a sensor attached to the legs of the still hovering Lunar Module made lunar contact, a panel light inside the LM lit up and Aldrin called out, "Contact light." As the LM settled on the surface Aldrin then said, "Okay. Engine stop," and Armstrong said, "Shutdown." The first words Armstrong intentionally spoke to Mission Control and the world from the lunar surface were, "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed". Aldrin and Armstrong celebrated with a brisk handshake and pat on the back before quickly returning to the checklist of tasks needed to ready the lunar module for liftoff from the Moon should an emergency unfold during the first moments on the lunar surface.[39][40][41] During the critical landing, the only message from Houston was "30 seconds", meaning the amount of fuel left. When Amstrong had confirmed touch down, Houston expressed their worries during the manual landing as "You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again".

First Moon walk
See also: Apollo 11 — Lunar surface operations
File:A11v 1092338.ogg
Neil Armstrong describes the lunar surface before setting foot on it.
Although the official NASA flight plan called for a crew rest period before extra-vehicular activity, Armstrong requested that the EVA be moved earlier in the evening, Houston time. Once Armstrong and Aldrin were ready to go outside, Eagle was depressurized, the hatch was opened and Armstrong made his way down the ladder first.

At the bottom of the ladder, Armstrong said "I'm going to step off the LEM now" (referring to the Apollo Lunar Module). He then turned and set his left boot on the surface at 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969.[42] Then spoke the famous words "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." [43]

Armstrong had decided on this statement following a train of thought that he had had after launch and during the hours after landing.[44] Speaking the line, he accidentally dropped the "a", from his remark, rendering the phrase a contradiction (as man in such use is synonymous with mankind).[43] Armstrong later said he "would hope that history would grant me leeway for dropping the syllable and understand that it was certainly intended, even if it was not said – although it might actually have been." It has since been claimed that acoustic analysis of the recording reveals the presence of the missing "a".[43][45] A digital audio analysis conducted by Peter Shann Ford, an Australia-based computer programmer, claims that Armstrong did, in fact, say "a man", but the "a" was inaudible due to the limitations of communications technology of the time.[43][46][47][48] Ford and James R. Hansen, Armstrong's authorized biographer, presented these findings to Armstrong and NASA representatives, who conducted their own analysis.[49] The article by Ford, however, is published on Ford's own web site rather than in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and linguists David Beaver and Mark Liberman at Language Log were skeptical of Ford's claims.[50][51][52][53][54][55] Armstrong has expressed his preference that written quotations include the "a" in parentheses.[56]

File:Apollo 11 first
Armstrong prepares to take the first step on the Moon.

When Armstrong made his proclamation, Voice of America was rebroadcast live via the BBC and many other stations the world over. The global audience at that moment was estimated at 450 million listeners,[57] out of a then estimated world population of 3.631 billion people.[58]

About 15 minutes after the first step, Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface and became the second human to set foot on the Moon. The duo began their tasks of investigating how easily a person could operate on the lunar surface. Early on they also unveiled a plaque commemorating their flight, and also planted the flag of the United States. The flag used on this mission had a metal rod to hold it horizontal from its pole. Since the rod did not fully extend, and the flag was tightly folded and packed during the journey, the flag ended up with a slightly wavy appearance, as if there were a breeze.[59] On Earth there had been some discussion as to whether it was appropriate to plant the flag at all. Armstrong has said that he personally did not think that any flag should have been left, but decided it wasn't worth making a big deal about. Slayton had warned Armstrong that they would receive a special communication, but did not tell him that President Richard Nixon would contact them just after the flag planting.

[[File:|thumb|left|250px|Armstrong works at the Apollo Lunar Module in one of the few photos showing him during the EVA.[citation needed]]]

In the entire Apollo 11 photographic record, there are only five images of Armstrong partly shown or reflected. The mission was planned to the minute, with the majority of photographic tasks to be performed by Armstrong with their single Hasselblad camera.[60] Aldrin has explained that there were plans to take a photo of Armstrong after the famous image of Aldrin was taken, but they were interrupted by the Nixon communication, which began just five minutes later.

After helping to set up the Early Apollo Scientific Experiment Package, Armstrong went for a walk to what is now known as East Crater, 65 yards (60 m) east of the LM, the greatest distance traveled from the LM on the mission. Armstrong's final task was to leave a small package of memorial items to deceased Soviet cosmonauts Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov, and Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. The time spent on EVA during Apollo 11 was about two-and-a-half hours, the shortest of any of the six Apollo lunar landing missions. Each of the subsequent five landings were allotted gradually longer periods for EVA activities. The crew of Apollo 17, by comparison, spent over 21 hours exploring the lunar surface.

Return to Earth

After they re-entered the LM, the hatch was closed and sealed. While preparing for the liftoff from the lunar surface, Armstrong and Aldrin discovered that in their bulky spacesuits, they had broken the ignition switch for the ascent engine. The ascent engine had no switch to fire. Using part of a pen, they pushed the circuit breaker in to activate the launch sequence. Aldrin still possesses the pen which they used to do this. (Aldrin has it kept in a glass case for all to see). The lunar module then continued to its rendezvous and docked with Columbia, the command and service module, and returned to Earth. The command module splashed down in the Pacific ocean and the Apollo 11 crew was picked up by the USS Hornet (CV-12).

File:Apollo 11 crew in
The Apollo 11 crew and President Richard Nixon.

After being released from an 18-day quarantine to ensure that they had not picked up any infections or diseases from the Moon, the crew were feted across the United States and around the world as part of a 45-day "Giant Leap" tour. Armstrong then took part in Bob Hope's 1969 USO show, primarily to Vietnam.

In May 1970, Armstrong traveled to the Soviet Union to present a talk at the 13th annual conference of the International Committee on Space Research. Arriving in Leningrad from Poland, he traveled to Moscow where he met Premier Alexei Kosygin. He was the first westerner to see the supersonic Tupolev Tu-144 and was given a tour of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center, which Armstrong described as "a bit Victorian in nature." At the end of the day, he was surprised to view delayed video of the launch of Soyuz 9. It had not occurred to Armstrong that the mission was taking place, even though Valentina Tereshkova had been his host and her husband, Andriyan Nikolayev, was on board.[61]

Life after Apollo

Teaching

File:Neil Armstrong Hall of
Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering at Purdue University.
File:Neil armstrong
Armstrong on July 16, 1999 at the Kennedy Space Center.

Armstrong announced shortly after the Apollo 11 flight that he did not plan to fly in space again. He was appointed Deputy Associate Administrator for aeronautics for the Office of Advanced Research and Technology (DARPA). He served in this position for only 13 months, and resigned from it and NASA as a whole in August 1971. He accepted a teaching position in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

He decided on Cincinnati over other universities, including his alma mater, Purdue, because it had a small Aerospace department; he hoped that the faculty members would not be annoyed that he came straight into a professorship with only the USC master's degree.[62] He began the work while stationed at Edwards years before, and he finally completed it after Apollo 11 by presenting a report on various aspects of Apollo, instead of a thesis on simulation of hypersonic flight. The official job title he received at Cincinnati was University Professor of Aerospace Engineering. After teaching for eight years, he resigned in 1979 due to other commitments and changes in the university structure from independent municipal school to state-school.[63]

NASA accident investigations

Armstrong served on two spaceflight accident investigations. The first was in 1970, after Apollo 13. As part of Edgar Cortwright's panel, he produced a detailed chronology of the flight. Armstrong personally opposed the report's recommendation to re-design the service module's oxygen tanks, the source of the explosion.[64] In 1986 President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Rogers Commission, which investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of that year. As vice-chairman, Armstrong was in charge of the operational side of the commission.[65]

Business activities

After Armstrong retired from NASA in 1971, he avoided offers from businesses to act as a spokesman. The first company to successfully approach him was Chrysler, for whom he appeared in advertising starting in January 1979. Armstrong thought they had a strong engineering division, plus they were in financial difficulty. He acted as a spokesman for other companies, including General Time Corporation and the Bankers Association of America. He only acts as a spokesman for United States businesses.[66]

Along with spokesman duties, he also served on the board of directors of several companies, including Marathon Oil, Learjet, Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company, Taft Broadcasting, United Airlines, Eaton Corporation, AIL Systems, and Thiokol. He joined Thiokol's board after he served on the Rogers Commission; Challenger was destroyed due to a problem with the Thiokol-manufactured Solid Rocket Boosters. He retired as chairman of the board of EDO Corporation in 2002.[67]

Personal life

stop in Southwest Asia. To his left are Gene Cernan and Jim Lovell.]]

The first man to walk on the Moon was also approached by political groups from both ends of the spectrum. Unlike former astronauts and United States Senators John Glenn and Harrison Schmitt, Armstrong has turned down all offers. Personally, he is in favor of states' rights and against the United States acting as the "world's policeman."[68] In 1971, Armstrong was awarded the Sylvanus Thayer Award by the United States Military Academy at West Point for his service to the country.

In 1972, Armstrong was welcomed into the town of Langholm, Scotland, the traditional seat of Clan Armstrong. The astronaut was made the first freeman of the burgh, and happily declared the town his home.[69] The Justice of the Peace read from an unrepealed 400-year-old law that required him to hang any Armstrong found in the town.[70]

In the fall of 1979, Armstrong was working at his farm near Lebanon, Ohio. As he jumped off of the back of his grain truck, his wedding ring caught in the wheel, tearing off the tip of his ring finger. However, he calmly collected the severed digit, packed it in ice, and managed to have it reattached by microsurgeons at the Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.[71]

While skiing with friends at Aspen, Colorado in February 1991, he suffered a mild heart attack. It came a year after his father had died and nine months after the death of his mother.

File:Quincy Jones, John Glenn, and Neil Armstrong during NASA's 50th anniversary
Quincy Jones presents platinum copies of "Fly Me to the Moon" (from It Might as Well Be Swing) to Neil Armstrong (right) and Senator John Glenn on 24th September 2008.

Armstrong's first wife of 38 years, Janet, divorced him in 1994.[72] He met his second wife, Carol Held Knight, in 1992 at a golf tournament. Seated together at the breakfast, she said little to Armstrong, but a couple of weeks later, she received a call from him asking what she was doing. She replied she was cutting down a cherry tree, and 35 minutes later Armstrong was at her house to help out. They were married on June 12, 1994 in Ohio, and then had a second ceremony at San Ysidro Ranch in California.

Since 1994, Armstrong has refused all requests for autographs, after he found that his signed items were selling for large amounts of money and that many forgeries are in circulation. Often items reach prices of US$1,000 on auction sites like eBay. Signed photographs of the Apollo 11 crew can sell for $5,000. Any requests sent to him receive a form letter in reply saying that he has stopped signing. Although his no-autograph policy is well-known, author Andrew Smith observed people at the 2002 Reno Air Races still try to get signatures, with one person even claiming, "If you shove something close enough in front of his face, he'll sign."[73] Along with autographs, he has stopped sending out congratulatory letters to new Eagle Scouts. The reason is that he thinks these letters should come from people who know the Scout personally.[74]

Usage of Armstrong's name, image, and famous quote has caused him problems over the years. MTV wanted to use his quote for its now-famous ident depicting the Apollo 11 landing when it launched in 1981, but he declined.[75] Armstrong sued Hallmark Cards in 1994 after they used his name and a recording of "one small step" quote in a Christmas ornament without permission. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money which Armstrong donated to Purdue. The case caused Armstrong and NASA to be more careful about the usage of astronaut names, photographs and recordings, and to whom he has granted permission. For non-profit and government public-service announcements, he will usually give permission.

In May 2005 Armstrong became involved in an unusual legal battle with his barber of 20 years, Marx Sizemore. After cutting Armstrong's hair, Sizemore sold some of it to a collector for $3,000 without Armstrong's knowledge or permission. Armstrong threatened legal action unless the barber returned the hair or donated the proceeds to a charity of Armstrong's choosing. Sizemore, unable to get the hair back, decided to donate the proceeds to the charity of Armstrong's choice.[76]

Legacy

File:Apollo 11 - Crew at the White
Michael Collins, President George W. Bush, Armstrong, and Aldrin in the White House Oval Office during celebrations of the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight, July 21, 2004
File:Neil Armstrong
Armstrong and presidential dog Barney in the White House Garden Room, July 2004

Armstrong has received many honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy, the Sylvanus Thayer Award, the Collier Trophy from the National Aeronautics Association, and the Congressional Gold Medal. The lunar crater Armstrong, 50 km (31 miles) from the Apollo 11 landing site, and asteroid 6469 Armstrong[77] are named in his honor. Armstrong was also inducted into the Aerospace Walk of Honor and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Throughout the United States, there are more than a dozen elementary, middle and high schools named in his honor.[78] Many places around the world have streets, buildings, schools, and other places named for Armstrong and/or Apollo.[79] In 1969, folk songwriter and singer John Stewart recorded "Armstrong", a tribute to Armstrong and his first steps on the moon.

Purdue University announced in October 2004 that their new engineering building would be named Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering in his honor.[80] The building cost $53.2 million and was dedicated on October 27, 2007. Armstrong was joined by fourteen other Purdue Astronauts at the ceremony.[81] The Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum is located in his hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio, although it has no official ties to Armstrong, and the airport in New Knoxville where he took his first flying lessons is named for him.[82]

Armstrong's authorized biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, was published in 2005. For many years, Armstrong turned down biography offers from authors such as Stephen Ambrose and James A. Michener. He agreed to work with James R. Hansen after reading one of Hansen's other biographies.[83]

The press often asks Armstrong for his views on the future of spaceflight. In 2005, Armstrong said that a manned mission to Mars will be easier than the lunar challenge of the 1960s: "I suspect that even though the various questions are difficult and many, they are not as difficult and many as those we faced when we started the Apollo [space program] in 1961." In 2010, he made a rare public criticism of the decision to cancel the Ares 1 launch vehicle and the Constellation moon landing program.[84] In an open public letter also signed by Apollo veterans Jim Lovell and Gene Cernan, he noted, "For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature."[85] Armstrong has also publicly recalled his initial concerns about the Apollo 11 mission. He had believed there was only a 50 percent chance of landing on the moon. "I was elated, ecstatic and extremely surprised that we were successful", he said.

See also

Bibliography

Notes

  1. ^ ""Civilians in Space"". http://www.fourmilab.ch/fourmilog/archives/2006-08/000736.html. 
  2. ^ ""Space.com Joseph A Walker"". http://www.space.com/adastra/adastra_joewalker_061127.html. 
  3. ^ "History of Wapakoneta, OH". http://www.wapakoneta.net/node/3. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  4. ^ Hansen, pages 49–50.
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  45. ^ Goddard, Jacqui (2006-10-02). "One small word is one giant sigh of relief for Armstrong". The Times. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article657515.ece. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  46. ^ Ford, Peter Shann (2006-09-17). "Electronic Evidence and Physiological Reasoning Identifying the Elusive Vowel "a" in Neil Armstrong's Statement on First Stepping onto the Lunar Surface" (reprint). CollectSpace.com. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-100306a.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  47. ^ "Software finds missing 'a' in Armstrong's moon quote". CNN.com (Associated Press). 2006-10-01. Archived from the original on 2006-10-04. http://web.archive.org/web/20061004151135/http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/09/30/moon.quote.ap/index.html. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  48. ^ "Software revises Armstrong's moon quote". ABCNews.com (Associated Press). 2006-09-30. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=2512668. Retrieved 2007-08-28. [dead link]
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  54. ^ Language Log. "First Korean on the moon!". http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003639.html. 
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External links

Preceded by
Ellsworth Bunker
Sylvanus Thayer Award recipient
1971
Succeeded by
Billy Graham


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

Neil Alden Armstrong (born 5 August 1930) is a former Test pilot and astronaut, who was the mission commander of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on July 20, 1969, in which he and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to land on the moon's surface, and he was the first man to actually step foot upon the moon.

Contents

Sourced

I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges....
  • I think we're going to the moon because it's in the nature of the human being to face challenges. It's by the nature of his deep inner soul ... we're required to do these things just as salmon swim upstream.
    • Apollo mission press conference, quoted in Of a Fire on the Moon (1970) by Norman Mailer, and in First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong (2005) by James R. Hansen
  • Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.
    • First words from the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Module Eagle after guiding the craft to a landing on the moon. It is estimated that there was 11 seconds' worth of fuel left at touchdown. (20 July 1969)

Listen to an original recording of this quote:

A11v 1092338.ogg
  • That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.
    • Words said when Armstrong first stepped onto the moon (20 July 1969). In the actual sound recordings he apparently fails to say "a" before "man" and says: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." This was generally considered by many to simply be an error of omission on his part. Armstrong long insisted he did say "a man" but that it was inaudible. Prior to new evidence supporting his claim, he stated a preference for the "a" to appear in parentheses when the quote is written. In September 2006 evidence based on new analysis of the recordings conducted by Peter Shann Ford, a computer programmer based in Sydney, Australia, whose company Control Bionics helps physically handicapped people to use their own nerve impulses to communicate through computers, indicated that Armstrong had said the missing "a." This information was presented to Armstrong and NASA on 28 September 2006 and reported in the Houston Chronicle (30 September 2006). The debate continues on the matter, as "Armstrong's 'poetic' slip on Moon" at BBC News reports that more recent analysis by linguist John Olsson and author Chris Riley with higher quality recordings indicates that he did not say "a".
The exciting part for me, as a pilot, was the landing on the moon ... Walking on the lunar surface was very interesting, but it was something we looked on as reasonably safe and predictable.
  • The exciting part for me, as a pilot, was the landing on the moon. That was the time that we had achieved the national goal of putting Americans on the moon. The landing approach was, by far, the most difficult and challenging part of the flight. Walking on the lunar surface was very interesting, but it was something we looked on as reasonably safe and predictable. So the feeling of elation accompanied the landing rather than the walking.
  • Space has not changed but technology has, in many cases, improved dramatically. A good example is digital technology where today's cell phones are far more powerful than the computers on the Apollo Command Module and Lunar Module that we used to navigate to the moon and operate all the spacecraft control systems.
    • On the differences between the present and the time of the Space Race which existed during the Cold War years, in an nterview at The New Space Race (August 2007)
  • Pilots take no special joy in walking: pilots like flying. Pilots generally take pride in a good landing, not in getting out of the vehicle.

Presidential Telephone Call

It's a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations, and with interests and the curiosity and with the vision for the future.
US President Richard Nixon spoke to Aldrin and Armstrong during their first walk on the surface of the moon (20 July 1969) - Full transcript and link to the recording
Nixon: Hello, Neil and Buzz. I'm talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House, and this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made from the White House. I just can't tell you how proud we all are of what you have done. For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they, too, join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one; one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth.
Armstrong: Thank you, Mr. President. It's a great honor and privilege for us to be here representing not only the United States but men of peace of all nations, and with interests and the curiosity and with the vision for the future. It's an honor for us to be able to participate here today.
Nixon: And thank you very much and I look forward — all of us look forward to seeing you on the Hornet on Thursday.
Aldrin: I look forward to that very much, sir.

Misattributed

  • I believe that every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises.
    • First On The Moon : A Voyage with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin E Aldrin, Jr. (1970) edited by Gene Farmer and Dora Jane Hamblin, p. 113, states of this: "Like many a quote which gets printed once and therefore enshrined in the libraries of all newspapers and magazines, this particular one was erroneous. Neil recalled having heard the quote, and he even recalled having repeated it once. He did not subscribe to its thesis, however, and he only quoted it so that he could disagree with it."

Quotes about Armstrong

  • You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again.
    • Message from mission control in Houston, after the announcement that the Eagle had landed. The previous message from Houston had been an indication that there was 30 seconds of fuel left in the landing vehicle.
  • At few other moments has one person become the fulcrum of such weighty imperatives — to win a famous victory for America and vindicate a vast investment of national treasure, to penetrate a hostile frontier, to master a new technology, to navigate a harrowing descent to the unknown — all in the glare of rapt global attention. By the time he landed in the Sea of Tranquility, the country boy from Ohio had already spent most of his adult life in jobs where intensity of focus and the threat of violent death were part of his daily routine. He was used to all of that. It was, instead, the loss of privacy that appalled him. He loved to fly, and he loved his country, and in the name of those passions he was willing to risk not only his hide but a piece of his soul.
    Only a piece, however — a mere finger's worth — and no more. ... Those who know him say he is a smart and intensely private, even shy, man determined to live life on his own terms despite having floated down that ladder into the public domain. Whether as an astronaut, naval combat aviator, test pilot, civil servant, engineer, absent-minded professor, gentleman farmer, businessman, civic booster, amateur musician, husband or father, Neil Armstrong has followed his own code.

External links

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Simple English

Neil Armstrong
File:Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Born Neil Alden Armstrong
August 5, 1930
Ohio, USA
Employer NASA

Professor Neil Alden Armstrong was born on August 5th 1930 in Ohio and grew up on a farm with his grandparents in the United States. He was an American astronaut, an American aviator and a former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, and United States Naval Aviator and the first person to set foot on the Earth's moon. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in a small spacecraft that had been sent to the moon using the Saturn V rocket. The rocket was called Apollo 11. They both walked on the moon, and millions of people watched and heard this event on live television. He earned a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Purdue University and a master of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California. In 1970 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from the Purdue University. From 1971 to 1979 he became professor for aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

His most famous quote is: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind. "

He spoke those words when he set foot on the moon. He wanted to say "That's one small step for a man…", but for some reason the "a" was never spoken. Armstrong thought he had said it. He admits that he often forgot syllables when speaking. Listening to the audio shows that the "for" runs on smoothly, giving no time for "a" to be spoken. Armstrong prefers written quotations to include the "a" in parentheses.

In 2005 he received the Honorary Doctorate of letters from the University of Southern California. The Houston Chronicle newspaper reported on October 1, 2006, that Australian computer programmer Peter Shann Ford found the missing "a" from Armstrong's famous first words on the Moon. Ford reported that he downloaded the audio recording from a NASA web site and analyzed it using editing software originally intended for use with hearing disabled people. Armstrong is said to have been pleased with Ford's finding of the missing "a".

Early Life

Neil Armstrong discovered his passion for flying when he was 2 years old. His father used to take him to the Cleveland National Air Races. When he was young he would help his parents around the house like weeding the garden and hanging the laundry, he would do this with his sister June and brother Dean. Neil Armstrong also loved reading books. In the first grade, he read 90 books. Because of this, he skipped the second grade.

Career

Prior to being an astronaut, Armstrong was called to Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida in 1949 before he could complete his degree. There he earned his pilots wings at 20 years of age, making him the youngest flyer in his squadron. While studying for his aeronautical engineering degree, the Korean War broke out in 1950, in which flew 78 combat missions. His plane was shot down once and he was also awarded 3 Air Medals. Later, he became a skilful test pilot, flying right to the atmosphere’s edge, 207,500 feet (63,200 m) at 4,000 miles per hour (6,400 km/h), in the experimental rocket powered aircraft the X-15.

Armstrong went on his first mission into space on the 16th of March 1966, in the spacecraft Gemini 8, as the command pilot. He docked the Gemini 8 successfully with an Agena target craft that was in orbit already. Although the docking was smooth enough, while the spacecrafts orbited together, they started to roll and pitch. Armstrong then managed to undock the Gemini, and regained control of the spacecraft by using the retro rockets. However, this resulted in the astronauts having to make an emergency landing into the Pacific Ocean.

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