Neil Armstrong was a famous astronaut because of his expedition to the moon during the cold war period. Armstrong was the first person to physically walk on the Moon followed by a successful trip to space in Apollo 11.
He was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, in 1930 and went through traditional education before launching his career at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Armstrong was used to flying since childhood as his family moved from city to city. After a trip on the Tin Goose with his father in 1936, Armstrong developed strong interests in aviation (Burgess 89).
He attended the Blume High School, and it pushed him to take aviation lessons in early age. The school organized flight lessons within the Wapakoneta Airfield. Armstrong graduated from the school at the age of 16 with a student’s flight certificate.
During his first days at school, Armstrong was engaged in Eagle Scout activities and recognized by the Boys’ Scout of America. He was a holder of the distinguished Eagle Scout Award for his contribution to the association during his days at elementary and high school (Delahunty and Sheila 206).
At the age of 17, he was admitted to Purdue University to undertake an undergraduate degree course in aeronautical engineering. After his successful graduation from the college, Armstrong joined the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His impressive performance enabled him to acquire Holloway plan scholarship to complete his studies at MIT.
Students under the Holloway plan were enrolled to the United States Navy to serve for three years. Armstrong was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering with an average GPA. He also graduated with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern Carolina. Armstrong was also awarded various honorary doctorate degrees from various institutions (Delahunty and Sheila 206).
In 1949, at the age of 18 Armstrong joined the United States Navy under the Holloway plan. He had to attend further flight trainings for more than 18 months before he could be allowed to pilot the USS Robot or USS Wright.
Armstrong became a naval aviator at the age of 20, and it marked the beginning of his illustrious career in aviation and aerospace. Later he was assigned to the Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron. In 1951, Armstrong participated in the Korean War where he was responsible for navigation of the primary transportation and jet storage to Korean Peninsula (Delahunty and Sheila 206).
By the end of his three-year tenure at the Navy, Armstrong had participated in 78 missions and clocked 121 hours on air. He got various awards for his dedication and professional duty to the Navy. Armstrong left the duty in order to work as a junior lieutenant at the United States Naval Research at the age of 22. Hehad been serving in lower position for over eight years until 1960.
Upon the completion of his postgraduate degree, Armstrong applied to the National Advisory for Aeronautics (NACA). Despite the absence of a job opening, the committee accepted his application and Armstrong worked for the Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland. He experienced various flight mishaps and accidents during his years at the Navy but remained committed to the duty (Bryant 112).
Armstrong successfully enrolled in the ‘Man in Space Soonest’ program of the United States Air Force in 1958. It enabled him to be selected for the consultant program under the X-20 Dyna-Soar. As a result, he got a chance to be one of the first seven pilots who would take part in piloting the first space flight. After Armstrong’s prospects of participating in the Apollo program had increased, he applied to the NASA committee (Watkins 47).
Though his application arrived a week after the deadline, he was selected due to Dick Day’s intervention. Day, who was a former workmate of Armstrong, slipped his behindhand application into the middle of letter pile. After a painful and rigorous medical examination, Armstrong was selected for the program in 1962. He was engaged in various projects before the Apollo 11 flight. These included the Gemini 8 and the Gemini 11 programs which increased his interest in space navigation (Launius 368).
Having signed the Outer Space Treaty, the USA was prepared to launch Apollo missions to the moon. On the same day with this treaty, pilots of Apollo 1 were killed in a launch fire, and it affected the mood of the crew. After the Apollo 1 fire investigation, Armstrong and his colleagues were informed of the decision to involve them in the next lunar flight. Armstrong participated in Apollo 8 and 9 as a backup pilot so he got acquainted with rigors of space flight.
Consequently, he was allowed to pilot Apollo 11 under the Lunar Module Program. The initial plan was to have Buzz Aldrin as the pilot and Michael Collins as the engineer. However, Aldrin swapped positions with Armstrong, and it presented him the historic chance of navigating Apollo 11 to the moon.
Due to some of Armstrong’s colleagues, it was his honest demeanor and lack of ego that helped him to get this coveted position. On April 14, 1969, a press conference, which provided the final details of the LM cabin that the trio use in their trip, was held. The design of the LM allowed Armstrong, based on his piloting position, to step out of the jet first. Though this decision was questioned by other senior officials, it was officially confirmed, and Armstrong became the first human who stepped out on the Moon. (Launius 368).
The crew faced various challenges at the beginning of the flight because the thrust of the jet. While his colleagues were affected by motion sickness, Armstrong remained conscious. It was the result of his early experience of flying and long sessions of aerobatics. After successful landing on the surface of the Moon, the crew depressurized the cabin in purpose to step out. While talking to members of the control unit, Armstrong set his left boot on the surface of the Moon on July 21, 1969.
The voice of Armstrong from the Moon was propagated to over 450 million people across the globe. Aldrin stepped out of the jet in 20 seconds and became the second human to set foot on the Moon. After Apollo 11, Armstrong decided not to fly back to space again and was awarded an administrative position at the Office of Advanced Research and Technology (Burgess 88).
Illness and death
In 2012, Armstrong faced heart complications and was subjected to corrective surgery. However, his condition persisted, and he died in his hometown of Ohio in August, 2012. Armstrong lived a quiet and humble life despite of his historical achievements and great duty to the country.
Burgess, Colin. Footprints in the Dust: The Epic Voyages of Apollo, 1969-1975. Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press, 2010. Print.
Bryant, Todd. Armstrong, Neil. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Delahunty, Andrew, and Sheila Dignan. Armstrong, Neil. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.
Launius, Roger. “Neil Armstrong (1930-2012).” Nature 489.7416 (2012): 368. Print.
Watkins, Billy. Apollo Moon Missions: The Unsung Heroes. Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2006. Print.