Last week, one of America’s greatest heroes, Neil Armstrong, passed away at the age of 82. This iconic figure in space history was the first man to walk on the moon, coining the now-famous phrase, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Born in August 1930, this Ohio native went on to enjoy a life indulging his love of space in all different ways over his 56 year career. It all started with getting his pilot’s license at 16 in 1946, and continued up until 2002 when he retired as chairman of the EDO Corporation. During his last 10 years, Neil spent time with his wife and two children.
Neil Armstrong joined the NASA forerunner NACA after years of experience as an aeronautical engineering major at Purdue and a naval aviator in the Korean War. At first, he was a test pilot and engineer, he even got to test the X-15, which goes up to 4,000 MPH! In 1962, he joined the astronaut program and was the command pilot for the Gemini VIII mission before he became spacecraft commander of Apollo 11. Apollo 11 was the historic space expedition to put the first men on the moon. Armstrong, along with partners Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, successfully completed this mission in July 1969 and spent two and a half hours taking photographs and collecting samples of the moon.
After Neil’s astronaut days, his love and career of space continued. He remained at NASA as an administrator until 1971, then moving on to become an aeronautical engineering professor at the University of Cincinnati for 8 years. His career continued as he chaired many different corporations and commissions until his ultimate retirement in 2002.
Over his lifetime, Neil became one of the best known astronauts around the world, being decorated in 17 countries with several medals and honors, including the Medal of Freedom and Congressional Space Medal of Honor. He is truly an inspirational figure to any aspiring pilot, astronaut or person with a childhood dream.