Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was an American astronaut who earned eternal fame as the first person to walk on the moon.
Neil Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and lived in several different towns within the state due to his father’s occupation as a state auditor. He attended Purdue University to study engineering on a Navy scholarship, but his academic career was interrupted by the Korean War, in which Armstrong served as a Navy fighter pilot. He logged 78 combat missions, including one that forced his ejection when the plane lost control of its hinged flight-control panels. After the war he completed his college education, and spent time as a test pilot for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station.
Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962, and made his first space flight as command pilot of Gemini 8 in March 1966. He was NASA’s first civilian astronaut to fly in space. His second, and final space flight is the one for which Armstrong is so well-known. As commander of Apollo 11 in July 1969, Neil Armstrong guided the first manned moon landing mission in history. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent two and a half hours outside the spacecraft and exploring the lunar surface. Upon setting foot on the moon’s surface, Armstrong uttered his now-famous words, "That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
Neil Armstrong left the space program shortly after the Apollo 11 mission, and returned to Ohio where we was a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati from 1971-1979. He later spent several years as a director of multiple corporations. A very quiet and private man, Armstrong stayed out of the public eye whenever possible. However, he was the recipient of countless awards and accolades over the years, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon. President Jimmy Carter presented Armstrong the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978, and Armstrong and his former crewmates received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009. An engineering building at Purdue University is named in his honor.
Neil Armstrong passed away on Aug. 25, 2012 following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. He was 82.