August 12, 2022
Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American aerospace engineer, naval aviator, test pilot, astronaut, and professor who became the first human to set foot on the Moon. in 1969. Armstrong studied engineering at Purdue University; in 1949 he became a midshipman in the United States Navy, and the following year he was trained as a naval aviator. He fought in the Korean War from the aircraft carrier USS Essex and later completed his bachelor's degree in engineering; he subsequently worked as a test pilot at Edwards AFB High-Speed Flight Station, flying several Centennial Series aircraft and seven times in the North American X-15. He also participated in two space programs conceived by the Air Force: Man in Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar. Armstrong joined the NASA astronaut corps in its second group, selected in 1962. He made his first spaceflight as commander of Gemini VIII in March 1966, becoming the first civilian NASA astronaut to go into space. He performed, along with pilot David Scott, the first successful docking between two spacecraft in history, but the mission had to be aborted after ten hours, as Armstrong had used fuel from his reentry control to prevent a dangerous spin. caused by a stuck propeller. During his training at NASA to be the commander of Apollo 11, he had to eject from the Landing Research Vehicle moments before it crashed. In July 1969, he and Lunar Module pilot Buzz Aldrin performed the first manned landing in history, spending two hours outside the spacecraft while Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit inside the Command and Service Module. When Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface, he famously uttered the phrase "It's one small step for [one] man, one giant leap for mankind." The three astronauts were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President Richard Nixon. President Jimmy Carter presented Armstrong with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, and he and his fellow missionaries received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2011. Armstrong retired from NASA in 1971 and went on to teach in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati, a position he held until 1979. He also served on the investigation committee into the Apollo 13 accident in 1970 and the Rogers Commission on the Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986. He also served as a spokesperson for various businesses and, beginning in January 1979, appeared in several Chrysler automobile commercials. Despite these public appearances, Armstrong gained a reputation as a recluse, for his insistence on maintaining some discretion in his private life. He died at the age of 82 in 2012 from complications from heart bypass surgery.