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Neil A. Armstrong commanded the Gemini 8 mission and became the first human to walk on the moon as commander of Apollo 11.

He was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on August 5, 1930. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern California.

Armstrong joined the Navy and flew as a naval aviator from 1949 to 1952. In 1955 he joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory and later transferred to the High Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base, California, as a civilian aeronautical test research pilot for NACA and NASA. Among the aircraft he tested was the X-15 rocket plane.

He was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1962. On March 16, 1966, Armstrong and Dave Scott were launched in Gemini 8 to conduct the first linkup in space, docking with an Agena target satellite. The linkup was successful, but after a short time, the astronauts reported their craft was spinning out of control. They disengaged from the Agena, but the tumbling continued. One of 16 Gemini jet thrusters was stuck open and was spewing fuel into space, inparting the roll motion. Unable to stop the spinning with the main thrusters the astronauts activated a second set of 16 jets intended for use on reentry and after 30 minutes stabilized the spacecraft. Mission Control ordered Armstrong and Scott to cut the flight short and they splashed down in a contingency recovery area in the western Pacific. Missed was a planned space walk by Scott.

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins departed for the moon. Four days later, Armstrong and Aldrin landed their Lunar Module in the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility. Armstrong, and then Aldrin, stepped onto the surface and became the first humans to leave their footprints in the lunar dust. They explored the surface and gathered moon rocks for more than two hours. The next day they fired off the surface and rejoined Collins in the orbiting Command Module.

Armstrong left NASA in 1971 and became a professor of aeronautical engineering at the University of Cincinnati, where he taught until 1981.

Armstrong died August 25, 2012.

He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on March 19, 1993.


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