By: Vivian Chan 8th Grader
Armstrong developed a fascination with flight, starting from an early age. When Neil turned sixteen, he earned his student pilot’s license. In 1947, Armstrong began to study aeronautical engineering at Purdue University on a U.S. Navy scholarship. Unfortunately, he was interrupted in 1949, when he was called to serve in the Korean War as a U.S. Navy pilot. Armstrong flew 78 combat missions during this war, and left his services in 1952 to return to college. A couple years later, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
In Armstrong’s personal life, he married Janet Shearon in 1956. The couple soon added to their family, and their son Eric arrived in 1957, followed by their daughter, Karen, in 1959. Sadly, Karen died of complications with an inoperable brain tumor in January 1962. The following year, they welcomed their third son, Mark.
During that same year, Armstrong joined the astronaut program, and moved his family to Houston, Texas. There, he served as a command pilot for his mission, Gemini VIII. His fellow astronaut, David Scott, and he were launched into earth’s orbit on March 16, 1966. During the mission, however, they experienced from problems and had to cut their mission short. They landed in the Pacific Ocean eleven hours after their mission started, and were later rescued by the U.S.S. Mason.
Armstrong came upon an even bigger challenge in 1969. With Michael Collens and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, he was part of NASA’s first attempted to land on the moon. Armstrong piloted the Lunar Module to the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969, with Buzz Aldrin aboard. When they finally arrived on the moon’s delicate surface, they spent about two and a half hours collecting samples and conducted experiments. They also took pictures, including their footprints.
After returning on July 24, 1969, the Apollo 11 craft came down from the West of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean. Armstrong received numerous awards for his courage efforts, including the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. One of Armstrong’s most famous quotes were “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”