About Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the Moon. He was born on August 5, 1930, in Wapakoneta, Ohio.
Neil Armstrong fell in love with flying at a young age. His father took him to an air show when he was a boy, and from there, his head was in the clouds. At the age of 15, he got his pilot's license.
Armstrong went to Purdue University in Indiana, where he studied Aerospace Engineering. After that, he got a Master's degree at the University of Southern California. While he was at college, Neil became a fighter pilot in the United States Navy and fought in the Korean War. His squad flew fighter missions that took off and landed on aircraft carriers. Aircraft carriers are large ships that work like floating airports. At one point, Neil’s plane was shot by enemy fire. Neil ejected from his plane and parachuted to safety.
Becoming an Astronaut
After the war, Neil went back to college to finish his studies. He graduated and went on to become a test pilot. He flew many experimental planes to see how well they worked. Being a test pilot is a very dangerous job, but Neil loved it. He flew thousands of flights in more than 200 different types of aircraft during his career.
In September of 1962, Neil Armstrong applied to the NASA Astronaut Corps. NASA stands for "National Aeronautics and Space Administration." He had to go through many challenging physical tests. Neil passed his tests and was soon part of the "New Nine" of NASA astronauts.
His First Space Mission
Neil and his family moved to Houston, Texas, and Armstrong became the command pilot for his first space mission aboard the Gemini 8. He and fellow astronaut David Scott were launched into Earth's orbit on March 16, 1966. This was the first time two vehicles had successfully docked in space. The mission was cut short, however, when they experienced some complications. They landed in the Pacific Ocean about 11 hours after the mission's start, and were rescued.
Mission to the Moon on Apollo 11
On December 23, 1968, Neil and two other men were selected for the Apollo 11 mission. Neil was the commander.
This would be the first manned landing on the Moon. It was an exciting time in history. The United States was in the "space race" with the Soviet Union to put the first man on the Moon. If the Apollo 11 mission was successful, Neil Armstrong would be that man.
The Eagle Has Landed
After months of training, the Apollo 11 spacecraft was ready for liftoff. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 16, 1969. The mission was not smooth sailing. At one point, Armstrong had to take manual control of the landing rather than using the computer. This was not planned. If anything went wrong, it would have left the crew with not enough fuel for the return flight home. Neil was able to land successfully on the moon with only 40 seconds of fuel remaining. After the landing, Neil Armstrong sent a message back to mission control and the world. In the message, he said the famous words: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed." While the lunar module was on the Moon, a third astronaut, named Michael Collins, orbited the Moon in the command module.
On July 21, 1969, at 10:56 PM, Neil Armstrong was the first to leave the Eagle and step onto the Moon. Then, he said these famous words back to Earth: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Buzz Aldrin also walked on the Moon during this trip. For about two and a half hours, the men collected moon samples like rocks and dust, took photographs, and did experiments. They also placed the American flag on the Moon, while 600 million people watched on TV.
The three astronauts arrived back on Earth on July 24th. Their capsule landed in the Pacific Ocean, where they were rescued. They returned to Earth as great Americans and heroes.
Since the dust is so thick, and there isn't any wind on the Moon, the footprints he and Buzz Aldrin left are still there.
After Apollo 11
After the Apollo 11 mission, Neil Armstrong worked with NASA for a few more years. He then became a college professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati.
On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff. Helping out at a difficult time, Neil Armstrong took the job as vice chairman of the Presidential Commission to investigate the explosion, which took the lives of its crew, including a schoolteacher.
Remembering Neil Armstrong
On August 25, 2012, Neil Armstrong died of heart disease. After his death, the White House released a statement that described Neil as "among the greatest of American heroes—not just of his time, but of all time." The statement also said that Neil Armstrong delivered "a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten."
Throughout the United States, there are more than a dozen elementary, middle, and high schools named after Neil Armstrong. Many places around the world have streets, buildings, schools, and other places named after him as well.