Neil A. Armstrong
Neil Armstrong, born on August 5, 1930, in Wapakoneta, Ohio, was the first American to set foot on the Moon. He attended Purdue University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering. He also received a Masters of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California.
From 1949 to 1952, Armstrong served as a naval aviator and he flew 78 combat missions during the Korean War. Armstrong joined NACA, (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics), NASA's predecessor, as a research pilot at the Lewis Laboratory in Cleveland and later transferred to the NACA High Speed Flight Station at Edwards AFB, California until 1958 and was a project pilot on many pioneering high speed aircraft, including the 4,000 mile-per-hour X-15. After the formation of NASA in 1958, he served as a test pilot for the agency until becoming an astronaut in 1962. He flew as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission, launched March 16, 1966, and performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space. In 1969, Armstrong was commander of Apollo 11, the first crewed lunar landing mission, and was the first man to land a craft on the Moon and the first man to step on its surface on July 20, 1969. As he landed, he pronounced one of the famous quote: “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
In 1970 and 1971 he served as deputy associate administrator for NASA's Office of Advanced Research and Technology. In 1971 he left NASA to become a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati and to undertake private consulting.
In 1984 President Ronald Reagan appointed Armstrong to the National Commission on Space, a group charged with developing goals for the civilian space program into the 21st century. In 1986 President Reagan named him vice chairman of the Rogers Commission, which investigated the space shuttle Challenger disaster.
Armstrong received many special honors, including the Presidential Medal for Freedom in 1969; the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy in 1970; the Robert J. Collier Trophy in 1969; and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, 1978