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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
The couple had three children together – Eric, Karen, and Mark.
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.
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
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,
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Pilot Neil Armstrong is seen here next to the X-15 ship after a research flight.
The X-15 set unofficial world speed and altitude records. - 1960
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 a 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Armstrong himself was depressed and annoyed
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.
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
for the rookie backup Pilot, William Anders. The launch was on September 12,
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.
Also on the tour were Dick Gordon, George Low, their wives, and other government
officials. They travelled to 11 countries and 14 major cities. Armstrong
impressed everyone involved when he greeted dignitaries in their local language.
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.
in 1956 as a test pilot
On January 27, 1967, 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 in the Apollo 1 fire during these telephone calls.
Armstrong and the group spent the rest of the night drinking scotch and
discussing what had happened.
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."
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 give the astronauts experience with the way the LM flew, Bell Aircraft
built two Lunar Landing Research Vehicles, which were later converted to Lunar
Landing Training Vehicles (LLTV). Nicknamed the 'Flying Bedsteads', they
simulated the one-sixth g of the Moon by using a turbofan engine to cancel out
most 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.
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 behaviour of lunar
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
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." 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
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
Astronaut Neil Armstrong
makes his first step on the moon from the Lunar module of Apollo
11.- 20th July 1969
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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
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.
Then spoke the famous words "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap
Armstrong had decided on this statement following a train of thought that he
had had after launch and during the hours after landing.
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). 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". 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.
Ford and James R. Hansen, Armstrong's authorized biographer, presented these
findings to Armstrong and NASA representatives, who conducted their own
analysis. 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 sceptical of Ford's claims.
Armstrong has expressed his preference that written quotations include the "a"
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,
out of a then estimated world population of 3.631 billion people.
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.
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.
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.
Aldrin has explained that there were plans were 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).
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.
Tabloid newspapers printed stories that romantically linked Armstrong to Connie
Stevens who was also on the tour, but the reports were unsubstantiated.
In May 1970, Armstrong travelled 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.
Life after Apollo
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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
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 favour of states' rights and against the United States
acting as the "world's policeman."
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.
The Justice of the Peace read from an unrepealed 400-year-old law that required
him to hang any Armstrong found in the town.
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
micro surgeons at the Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.
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.
Armstrong's first wife of 38 years, Janet, divorced him in 1994.
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."
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.
Usage of Armstrong's name, image, and famous quote has caused him problems
over the years. He 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 has received many honors and awards, including the Presidential
Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honour, the Robert H. Goddard
Memorial Trophy, the Sylvanus Thayer Award, and the Collier Trophy from the
National Aeronautics Association. The lunar crater Armstrong, 50 km (31 miles)
from the Apollo 11 landing site, and asteroid 6469 Armstrong
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.
Many places around the world have streets, buildings, schools, and other places
named for Armstrong and/or Apollo.
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.
The building cost $53.2 million and was dedicated on October 27, 2007. Armstrong
was joined by fourteen other Purdue Astronauts at the ceremony.
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.
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.
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.
very interesting, he is a legend there is nothing boring about
this article, only to those who need to hear negativeness or trash about
someone. Too ignorant to recognize something great.
this is very helpful but kinda boring
it gives ya enough info 4 bout hiz life
its ok but in a way boring