Sadly I have to give an update to this post.
One of America’s greatest heros, Neil Armstrong, passed away today due to complications from cardiovascular procedures. He had heart surgery last month in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“Looking back, we were really very privileged to live in that thin slice of history where we changed how man looks at himself and what he might become and where he might go,” Armstrong said.
“I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine”
Neil A. Armstrong was born on this day in Wapakoneta, Ohio, in 1930. He is 82 years old.
He grew up near the local airport and took flying lessons as a teenager. He got his pilots license before he got his driver’s license.
Armstrong was a naval aviator for three years, flying 78 combat missions during the Korean War, prior to joining the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics (NACA) in 1955. (The NACA was the precursor to NASA.) He logged over 2,400 hours of air time testing experimental aircraft at Edwards Airforce Base.
According to the NASA’s Glenn Research Center web site:
He has flown over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders.
In 1962 Armstrong became one of the “New Nine” NASA astronauts, the second group of men selected for US space flight to augment the Mercury 7. The Mercury astronauts established orbital space flight, the New Nine would fly in Gemini space capsules and would tackle docking two vehicles in space and space walks.
On his historic Gemini 8 mission Armstrong and Dave Scott successfully docked their ship with an unmanned Agena target vehicle. It was an essential first step towards getting to the moon. Unfortunately about 27 minutes after docking the two ships began to roll and yaw. Assuming the problem was with the Agena, Armstrong undocked, but it was a faulty thruster on the Gemini that was making the capsule spin, and undocking only exacerbated the problem. Armstrong and Scott had to shut down Gemini’s main reaction control system and use the reentry thrusters to zero out yaw and roll on the wildly spinning craft. Armstrong’s masterful flying skills were successful, but they used up 75% of the system’s fuel and Mission Control cut short the flight.
On the Gemini 11 flight he acted as CAPCOM — the person at Ground Control who interfaces with the astronauts in space — and he was the commander of the back-up crew for Apollo 8 (the first human space flight to leave Earth’s orbit, fly to the moon — but not land — and return to Earth.)
Armstrong was the Commander of Apollo 11, the first manned space craft to land on the Moon. He accompanied by Michael Collins, who stayed aloft in the Command Module, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. who touched down on the Moon’s surface on July 20, 1969 with with Armstrong. Armstrong descended a lader and took the first steps on the lunar surface. Armstrong and Aldrin had about 2 hours outside the lander, the Eagle, to take photographs, set up experiments and collect moon rocks. The Eagle blasted off from the Sea of Tranquility and Armstrong and Aldrin rejoined Collins on the Command Module, Columbia.
He worked for NASA as Deputy Associate Administrator for aeronautics until 1971.
Post NASA he taught and did research as a professor of aerospace engineering at University of Cincinnati and served as the chairman of the board for several privately owned aerospace/defense industries.
[Please note that I did not say Armstrong was the first man to LAND on the moon. Both Aldrin and Armstrong landed on the Moon at the same time. … Armstrong was the first man to WALK on the Moon.]