Neil A. Armstrong, a United States astronaut, was the first person to set
foot on the moon
Armstrong was an American astronaut. He was the first person to set foot on
the moon. Image credit: NASA
Born in 1930, Neil A. Armstrong, a United States astronaut, was the first
person to set foot on the moon. On July 20, 1969, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin
landed the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle on the moon. Armstrong left the module
and explored the lunar surface. Upon taking his first step onto the moon, he
said: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." But the
word a was lost in radio transmission.
Armstrong was born on Aug. 5, 1930, on his grandparents' farm in Auglaize
County, Ohio. He moved with his family to several Ohio communities before they
settled in Wapakoneta when Neil was 13 years old. Armstrong developed an
interest in flying at an early age. His love of airplanes grew when he went for
his first plane ride in a Ford Tri-Motor, a "Tin Goose," at the age of 6. From
then on, he was fascinated by aviation.
In 1947, Armstrong entered Purdue University. He began studies in
aeronautical engineering. But in 1949, the United States Navy called him to
active duty. Armstrong became a Navy pilot and was sent to Korea in 1950, near
the start of the Korean War. In Korea, he flew 78 combat missions in Navy
In 1952, Armstrong returned to Purdue. He earned a bachelor's degree in
aeronautical engineering there in 1955.
Armstrong was a civilian test pilot assigned to test the X-15 rocket airplane
before becoming an astronaut in 1962. He made his first space flight in 1966 on
Gemini 8 with David R. Scott. The two men performed the first successful docking
of two vehicles in space -- the Gemini 8 and an uninhabited Agena rocket.
Armstrong resigned from the United States astronaut program in 1970. Also in
1970, he earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering at the University of
Southern California. From 1971 to 1979, Armstrong was a professor of aerospace
engineering at the University of Cincinnati. In 1986, he was named vice chairman
of a presidential commission investigating the breakup of the space shuttle
Challenger. From 1982 to 1992, Armstrong served as chairman of the board of
Computing Technologies for Aviation, a company that develops software for flight
Contributor: James R. Hansen, Ph.D., Alumni Professor/Historian for NASA,
Auburn University/NASA Langley.
How to cite this article: To cite this article, World Book recommends the
following format: Hansen, James R. "Armstrong, Neil Alden." World Book Online
Reference Center. 2005. World Book, Inc. http://www.worldbookonline.com/wb/Article?id=ar031060.