Armstrong, Neil Alden

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Armstrong, Neil Alden,

1930–2012, American astronaut, b. Wapakoneta, Ohio, grad. Purdue Univ. (B.S., 1955), Univ. of Southern California (M.S., 1970). A U.S. Navy fighter pilot during the Korean War, Armstrong became a test pilot for what was then the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics in 1955. In 1962, already a veteran of the X-15 rocket plane, Armstrong became a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut and served as command pilot of the Gemini 8 mission. As commander of Apollo 11 (July 16–24, 1969), he was the first person (July 20 EDST) to set foot on the moon, saying: "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind" (the "a" was apparently lost in transmission due to static). After serving (1970–71) as an associate NASA administrator for aeronautics, Armstrong taught aeronautical engineering at the Univ. of Cincinnati from 1971 to 1979. In 1985, President Reagan appointed him to the National Commission on Space and in 1986 named him vice chairman of the panel that investigated the explosion of the space shuttle ChallengerChallenger,
U.S. space shuttle. It exploded (Jan. 28, 1986) 73 seconds into its tenth flight, killing all seven crew members, including the first civilian in space, schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. The disaster was caused by the faulty design of a gasket (the O-ring seal).
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See his First on the Moon (1970), written with G. Farmer and D. Hamblin; biography by J. R. Hansen (2005).

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