Big Moon True or a Hoax!?
|(retired USN)/NASA Astronaut|
|Born||August 5, 1930
Wapakoneta, Ohio, U.S.
|Space time||8 days, 14 hours and 12 minutes|
|Selection||1958 MISS; 1960 Dyna-Soar;1962 NASA Astronaut Group 2|
|Missions||Gemini 8, Apollo 11|
Neil Alden Armstrong (born August 5, 1930) is a former American astronaut, test pilot, university professor, and United States Naval Aviator. He is the first person to set foot on the Moon. His first spaceflight was aboard Gemini 8 in 1966, for which he was the command pilot. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft together with pilot David Scott. Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 20, 1969. On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module. Armstrong is a recipient of theCongressional Space Medal of Honor.
Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was in the United States Navy and saw action in the Korean War. After the war, he served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he flew over 900 flights in a variety of aircraft. As a research pilot, Armstrong served as project pilot on the F-100 Super Sabre A and C aircraft, F-101 Voodoo, and the Lockheed F-104A Starfighter. He also flew the Bell X-1B, Bell X-5, North American X-15, F-105 Thunderchief,F-106 Delta Dart, B-47 Stratojet, KC-135 Stratotanker and Paresev. He graduated from Purdue University.
Son of Stephen Koenig Armstrong and Viola Louise Engel, Neil Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio.. He is of Scots-Irish and German descent. Stephen Armstrong worked for the Ohio government, and the family moved around the state repeatedly for the next 15 years, living in 20 different towns. Armstrong had two siblings, June and Dean. His father's last forced move was to Wapakoneta in 1944. By this time, Armstrong was active in the Boy Scouts and he eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout. As an adult, he would be recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with their Distinguished Eagle Scout Award and Silver Buffalo Award. In Wapakoneta, he attended Blume High School.
In 1947, Armstrong began studying aerospace engineering at Purdue University, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He was only the second person in his family to attend college. He was also accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but the only engineer he knew (who had attended MIT) dissuaded him from attending, telling Armstrong that it was not necessary to go all the way to Cambridge, Massachusetts for a good education. His college tuition was paid for under the Holloway Plan; successful applicants committed to four years of study, followed by three years of service in the United States Navy, then completion of the final two years of the degree. At Purdue, he received average marks in his subjects, with a GPA that rose and fell over the eight semesters. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from University of Southern California. He holds honorary doctorates from a number of universities.
Armstrong's call-up from the Navy arrived on January 26, 1949, and required him to report to Naval Air Station Pensacola for flight training. This lasted almost 18 months, during which time he qualified for carrier landing aboard the USS Cabot and USS Wright. On August 12, 1950, he was informed by letter he was now a fully qualified Naval Aviator.
His first assignment was to Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 7 at NAS San Diego (now known as NAS North Island). Two months later he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 51 (VF-51), an all-jet squadron. He would make his first flight in a jet, a F9F-2B Panther on January 5, 1951. Six months later, he made his first jet carrier landing on the USS Essex. The same week he was promoted from midshipman to ensign. By the end of the month, the Essex had set sail with VF-51 aboard, bound for Korea, where they would act as ground-attack aircraft. He made over 600 flights in a variety of aircraft.
Armstrong first saw action in the Korean War on August 29, 1951, as an escort for a photo reconnaissance plane over Songjin. Five days later, he was shot down for the first and only time. The principal targets for his armed reconnaissance flight were freight yards and a bridge on a narrow valley road south of the village of Majon-ni, west of Wonsan. While making a low bombing run at about 350 mph (560 km/h) in his F9F Panther, Armstrong's plane was hit by anti-aircraft gunfire. The plane took a nose dive, and sliced through a cable strung about 500 ft (150 m) up across the valley by the North Koreans. This sheared off an estimated six feet (2 m) of its right wing.
Armstrong was able to fly the plane back to friendly territory, but could not land the plane safely due to the loss of the aileron, which left ejection as his only option. He planned to eject over water and await rescue by navy helicopters, so he flew to an airfield near Pohang. Instead of a water rescue, winds forced his ejection seat back over land. Armstrong was picked up by a jeep driven by a roommate from flight school. It is unknown what happened to the wreckage of No. 125122 F9F-2.
Over Korea, Armstrong flew 78 missions for a total of 121 hours in the air, most of which was in January 1952. He received the Air Medal for 20 combat missions, a Gold Star for the next 20, and the Korean Service Medal and Engagement Star. Armstrong left the navy on August 23, 1952, and became a Lieutenant, Junior Grade in the United States Naval Reserve. He resigned his commission in the Naval Reserve on October 20, 1960.
Armstrong returned to Purdue after he separated from the Navy, and his best grades at the university came in the four semesters following his return from Korea. He pledged the Phi Delta Theta fraternity after his return, where he wrote and co-directed their musical as part of the all-student revue. His final GPA was 4.8 out of 6.0. He was also a member of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity. Armstrong graduated with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1955.
While at Purdue, he met Janet Elizabeth Shearon, who was majoring in home economics. According to the two there was no real courtship and neither can remember the exact circumstances of their engagement, except that it occurred while Armstrong was working at the NACA's Glenn Research Center. They were married on January 28, 1956 at the Congregational Church in Wilmette, Illinois. When he moved to Edwards Air Force Base, he lived in the bachelor quarters of the base, while Janet lived in the Westwood district of Los Angeles. After one semester, they moved into a house inAntelope Valley. Janet never finished her degree, a fact she regretted later in life.
The couple had three children together – Eric, Karen, and Mark. In June 1961, Karen was diagnosed with a malignant tumor of the middle part of herbrain stem. X-ray treatment slowed its growth but her health deteriorated to the point where she could no longer walk or talk. Karen died of pneumonia, related to her weakened health, on January 28, 1962.
After he graduated from Purdue, Armstrong decided to try to become an experimental, research test pilot. He applied at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station at Edwards Air Force Base, which had no open positions and forwarded the application to the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio. Armstrong began working at Lewis Field in February 1955.
On his first day at Edwards, Armstrong flew his first assignments, piloting chase planes on drops of experimental aircraft from converted bombers. He also flew the converted bombers, and on one of these missions had his first flight incident at Edwards. Armstrong was in the right-hand seat of a B-29 Superfortress on March 22, 1956, which was to air-drop a Douglas Skyrocket D-558-2. As the right-hand seat pilot, Armstrong was in charge of the payload release, while the left-hand seat commander, Stan Butchart, flew the B-29.
As they ascended to 30,000 ft (9 km), the number four engine stopped and the propeller began windmilling in the airstream. Hitting the switch that would stop the propeller spinning, Butchart found the propeller slowed but then started spinning again, this time even faster than the other engines; if it spun too fast, it would fly apart. Their aircraft needed to hold an airspeed of 210 mph (338 km/h) to launch its Skyrocket payload, and the B-29 could not land with the Skyrocket still attached to its belly. Armstrong and Butchart nosed the aircraft down to pick up speed, then launched the Skyrocket. At the very instant of launch, the number four engine propeller disintegrated. Pieces of it careened through part of the number three engine and hit the number two engine. Butchart and Armstrong were forced to shut down the number three engine, due to damage, and the number one engine, due to the torque it created. They made a slow, circling descent from 30,000 ft (9,000 m) using only the number two engine, and landed safely.
Armstrong's first flight in a rocket plane was on August 15, 1957, in the Bell X-1B, to an altitude of 11.4 miles (18.3 km). He broke the nose landing gear when he landed, which had happened on about a dozen previous flights of the aircraft due to the aircraft's design. He first flew the North American X-15 on November 30, 1960, to a top altitude of 48,840 ft (14.9 km) and a top speed of Mach 1.75 (1,150 mph or 1,810 km/h).
In November 1960 Armstrong was chosen as part of the pilot consultant group for the X-20 Dyna-Soar, a military space plane. On March 15, 1962 he was named as one of six pilot-engineers who would fly the space plane when it got off the design board.
Armstrong was involved in several incidents that went down in Edwards folklore and/or were chronicled in the memoirs of colleagues. The first was an X-15 flight on April 20, 1962, when Armstrong was testing a self-adjusting control system. He flew to a height of 207,000 ft (63 km), (the highest he flew before Gemini 8), but he held the aircraft nose up too long during descent, and the X-15 literally bounced off the atmosphere back up to 140,000 ft (43 km). At that altitude, the atmosphere is so thin that aerodynamic surfaces have no effect. He flew past the landing field at Mach 3 (2,000 mph, or 3,200 km/h) and over 100,000 ft (30.5 km) altitude. He ended up 45 miles (72 km) south of Edwards (legend has that he flew as far as the Rose Bowl). After sufficient descent, he turned back toward the landing area, and barely managed to land without striking Joshua trees at the south end. It was the longest X-15 flight in both time and distance of the ground track.
A second incident happened when Armstrong flew for the first and only time with Chuck Yeager, four days after his X-15 adventure. Flying a T-33 Shooting Star, their job was to test out Smith Ranch Dry Lake for use as an emergency landing site for the X-15. In his autobiography, Yeager wrote that he knew the lake bed was unsuitable for landings after recent rains, but Armstrong insisted on flying out anyway. As they made a Touch-and-Go, the wheels became stuck and they had to wait for rescue. Armstrong tells a different version of events, where Yeager never tried to talk him out of it and they made a first successful landing on the east side of the lake. Then Yeager told him to try again, this time a bit slower. On the second landing they became stuck and according to Armstrong, Yeager was in fits of laughter.
Many of the test pilots at Edwards highly rated Armstrong's engineering ability. Milt Thompson said he was "the most technically capable of the early X-15 pilots." Bruce Peterson said Armstrong "had a mind that absorbed things like a sponge." Those who flew for the Air Force tended to have a different opinion, especially people like Chuck Yeager and Pete Knight who did not have engineering degrees. Knight said that pilot-engineers flew in a way that was "more mechanical than it is flying", and gave this as the reason why some pilot-engineers got into trouble; their flying skills did not come naturally.
On May 21, 1962, Armstrong was involved in what Edwards' folklore called the "Nellis Affair." He was sent in a F-104 to inspect Delamar Lake, again for emergency landings. He misjudged his altitude, and also did not realize that the landing gear hadn't fully extended. As he touched down, the landing gear began to retract. Armstrong applied full power to abort the landing, but the ventral fin and landing gear door struck the ground, which damaged the radio and released hydraulic fluid. Without radio communication, Armstrong flew to Nellis Air Force Base, past the control tower, and waggled his tail, the signal for a no-radio approach. The loss of hydraulic fluid caused the tail-hook to release, and upon landing he caught the arresting wire attached to an anchor chain, and careened along the runway dragging chain. Thirty minutes were needed to clear the runway and rig an arresting cable. Meanwhile, Armstrong telephoned Edwards and asked for someone to pick him up. Milt Thompson was sent in a F-104B, the only two-seater available, but a plane Thompson had never flown. With great difficulty, Thompson made it to Nellis, but a strong crosswind caused a hard landing and the left main tire suffered a blowout. The runway was again closed to clear it. Bill Dana was sent to Nellis in a T-33 Shooting Star, but he almost landed long. The Nellis base operations office decided that it would be best to find the three NASA pilots some transport back to Edwards, to avoid any further problems.
Armstrong made seven flights in the X-15. He reached a top altitude of 207,500 ft (63.2 km) in the X-15-3, and a top speed of Mach 5.74 (4,000 mph or 6,615 km/h) in the X-15-1, and he left the Dryden Flight Research Center with a total of 2,450 flying hours in more than 50 types of aircraft.
Astronaut selection and early training
There was no defining moment in Armstrong's decision to become an astronaut. In the months after the announcement that applications were being sought for the second group of astronauts, he became more and more excited about the prospect of the Apollo program and the prospect of investigating a new aeronautical environment. Many years later, it was disclosed that Armstrong's astronaut application had arrived about a week past the June 1, 1962 deadline. Dick Day, with whom Armstrong had worked closely at Edwards, worked at the Manned Spacecraft Center, saw the late arrival of the application, and slipped it into the pile before anyone noticed. At Brooks City-Baseat the end of June he underwent a medical exam that many of the applicants described as painful and at times seemingly pointless.
Deke Slayton called Armstrong on September 13, 1962 and asked if he was interested in joining the astronaut corps as part of what the press dubbed "the New Nine". Without hesitation, Armstrong said yes. The selections were kept secret until three days later, although newspaper reports had been circulating since the middle of summer that year that he would be selected as the "first civilian astronaut".