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Neil Armstrong Biography

Manali Oak
Neil Armstrong - the first man to step on the moon. Know more about him in his biography.

Quick Facts

Name: Neil Armstrong

Birth: August 5, 1930 in Ohio

Nationality: American

Landed on Moon: July 20, 1969

Time Spent on Moon: ~2 hrs.

Death: August 25, 2012
"I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine." - Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong was an astronaut with the courage and competence to qualify for the mission of landing on Moon! He was also a test pilot and aerospace engineer. For a brief period before becoming an astronaut, he served the US Navy.
As a child, he was a bright student with an inclination towards science. He had a fascination for planets and stars since a very young age. One of world's greatest astronauts was already in the making.


Born on August 5, 1930, in northwest Ohio near Wapakoneta, Neil Alden Armstrong grew up to become the first man to land on moon! He was the eldest son of his parents, Stephen and Viola Engel Armstrong. Neil's father worked as an auditor for the state government.
He traveled to many countries due to his job. His family had to move with him to places like Jefferson, Havana, Upper Sandusky, and Warren. Finally, the Armstrongs moved back to Wapakoneta, Ohio and settled there. As a child, Neil with his siblings Dean and June, did daily chores like weeding the garden or helping with the laundry.
At the age of two, Neil Armstrong went with his father to see the 1932 Cleveland National Air Races. On seeing the planes fly, he fell in love with flying. When young, Neil enjoyed reading books.
His exceptional intelligence was evident in his ability to read as good as the fifth graders, when in first grade. He was good at Science and Math. Astronomy interested him. Through a telescope his neighbor had, he used to gaze at the stars and especially at the moon.
At a raw age of six, Neil Armstrong took a plane ride in a Tin Goose. During the next few years, he made many model airplanes and a wind tunnel in the basement of his house to test them.
He began taking flying lessons when he was fourteen, and what a wonder, before getting even his driver's license, he was issued a pilot's license when he was just sixteen! He was a Blume High School student and he completed schooling in 1947.


Neil Armstrong joined Purdue University to obtain a degree in aeronautical engineering. During his years at Purdue, Neil was away for a while, serving as a pilot in the Korean War. He returned to Purdue to complete his degree.
He earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1955. Much later, he earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California.
In later years, he received honorary doctorates from a number of universities. He took up a job with the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory of NACA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in Ohio.
Neil Armstrong was selected as a NACA pilot to fly the X-15 rocket-engine plane. Once he made a record by attaining an altitude of 207,500 feet and a speed of 3,989 miles per hour.


His first wife Janet Shearon was a fellow Purdue student. They tied the wedding knot in 1956. The couple had three children, Alan, Karen (who died at a young age), and Mark. Armstrong met Carol Knight in 1992 at a golf tournament, who would be his wife 2 years later. He divorced from Janet in 1994 and married Carol on June 12 that year.


Armstrong was invited by NASA but it was not until 1962 that he decided to become an astronaut. He became America's first nonmilitary astronaut in September 1962. Armstrong's first assignment was an eight-day mission on Gemini 5 as an alternate for pilot Gordon Cooper. He was later selected as the command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission.
He successfully docked two vehicles in space. He was the one doing it for the first time ever. Prior to joining the space program, Armstrong worked as an engineer at NASA Dryden. Leaving NASA Dryden and the flight research community to join the space program was not an easy decision for him.

Way to the Moon

In January 1969, Armstrong was chosen to command the Apollo 11 mission of landing on the moon. He accompanied by Michael Collins and Edwin Aldrin, left from the Kennedy Space Center on July 16 that year.
A spacecraft named Eagle carried Armstrong and Aldrin to the moon. At 4:17:40 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time on July 20, mission 'Lunar Landing' was accomplished! At 10:56 P.M. Armstrong stepped on the moon and said, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
Armstrong, joined by Aldrin performed experiments, collected samples and lodged an American flag on the moon. They left some medals there, in memory of spacemen who had lost their lives during space missions. On July 24, they returned to Earth.

Years after the Moon Landing

Neil Armstrong joined NASA's Office of Advanced Research and Technology where he promoted research into computer-controlled aircraft. In 1971, he resigned from NASA and started working at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. He served for seven years as a professor of aerospace engineering.

Years after the Moon Landing

Armstrong led the government commission to examine the devastating explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. He was a chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation in Charlottesville. He chaired the AIL Systems. For a while, he was working with EDO Corporation. In 2002, he retired.

Awards Conferred

Neil Armstrong was the recipient of many special honors, including the Presidential Medal for Freedom and the Robert J. Collier Trophy conferred to him in 1969. In 1970, he was awarded the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy. He was given the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1978. He was one of the first 6 recipients of this honor.
Armstrong received the Langley Medal on account of the thirtieth anniversary of Apollo 11. The Presidential Medal of Freedom was also conferred to him. He was the proud winner of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and seventeen other medals from different nations.
In 2011, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal with other NASA astronauts John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, and Mike Collins.

A Moon Among Stars!

Among the marble and brass stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, there is a moon-shaped memorial that honors the astronauts of the first moon landing.


Neil Armstrong died on August 25, 2012, aged 82. According to a statement given by his family, complications in a heart surgery he had undergone earlier in August, were the reason for his death.
President Barack Obama described Armstrong as one of the greatest of American heroes - not just of his time, but of all time. Mitt Romney's statement on his passing says, "Neil Armstrong today takes his place in the hall of heroes. The moon will miss its first son of earth."
Armstrong led a quiet life and preferred staying away from media attention. The world knows him as the Moon-landing hero. After landing on Moon, when he saw the Earth, it looked like a small dot in the sky.
Looking at it he had said, "It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small." These words reflect his humility and speak volumes of the kind of person he was.