11 Neil Armstrong Facts for Kids
Neil Armstrong is an American hero! He was the first man on the moon. While we take space travel a little more for granted than we used to Mr. Armstrong’s contribution to space travel was tremendous. He uttered the words “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he exited the space ship and stepped out on to the moon.
On July 20th 1969 Neil Armstrong was the first American to step foot on the moon! He was only 38 years old when he took that historic first step for the world to see. A graduate of Purdue University he held a degree in engineering but always longed to be up in the clouds soaring high.
He actually received his pilots license long before he received his drivers license at 16! He was born August 5th 1930 in Ohio. He received a Naval Scholarship to attend Purdue University and was shortly called to war in Korea, he returned to Purdue to finish his studies and was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1955. He did not return to school for a Masters degree for almost 20 years but did complete his Masters of Arts in Engineering at the University of Southern California in 1970.
The time of the Apollo space flight which took Armstrong to the moon was a critical time in US history because we were in a race with the Soviet Union to be the first on the moon. Patriotism was high a the time and the space program had the entire countries support. Neil Armstrong and the other astronauts of the time were hailed as hero’s.
Just the Facts
1. Mr. Armstrong took boy scouting seriously and reached the coveted rank of Eagle Scout in his hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio.
2. He received his pilots license in 1946 a full three years before he had a drivers license. He often said that he did not need a license to drive because he had no plans of using a car to travel.
3. Neil Alden Armstrong was in the Navy from 1949 to 1952. Between his military service and civilian flight time he flew over 200 different aircraft and logged thousands and thousands of hours of flight time. He flew helicopters, gliders and a slew of other flying machines including a few prototypes for the Navy.
4. He is credited with flying 78 missions while in the Navy and he earned 3 air medals for heroics during the Korean war. He was very proud of serving in the Navy and felt that every American should serve at least one tour in a branch of he military.
5. From 1955-1962 he worked as a civilian test pilot for the Navy. He applied to NASA and was actually denied the first time. The second time around was the charm and he was chosen to be part of the second team of men to become astronauts.
6. His entire family tried to talk him out of his dream of heading to space. They discouraged him from applying and tried to persuade him to back out. Space was a very scary idea to most Americans at the time and for his family it was no different. His was married at the time and his wife according to Mr. Armstrong’s account was not very supportive (some accounts say that she even went as far as threatening divorce if he stayed in the program).
7. He stayed anyway and luckily he did or those famous words which he claims were a bit different than what history has recorded. According to Mr. Armstrong’s account what he said was “One small step for A man, one giant leap for mankind” he said the microphone on his space suit did not pick up the “A”. He made sure that he constantly corrected people because he did not like the way the infamous quote sounded. It is likely one of the most mis quoted sayings in history and he did his best to set the record straight.
8. His first trip to space was also historical it was the first successful docking of a space craft on the Gemini 8 than it was upward and onward and he joined the team for the Apollo 11 space mission. On July 16 1969 the Apollo 11 crew left for the moon from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after training for the voyage as a team for about 6 months. Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Armstrong left earth on a largely uneventful trip and landed on the moon.
9. There was a scary 40 seconds when Armstrong had to manually control the spaceship but for the most part it was a pretty easy trip all things considered. The spaceship returned with all the astronauts in tact 8 days later. I was a relatively short trip that literally shaped history.
10. The Apollo 11 touched down in the Pacific ocean on July 24 1969. The entire training and voyage was less than a year long process for Mr. Armstrong but it made a huge difference in how history played out.
11. A fun fact is that the original foot prints on the moon from the two astronauts that walked on the moon are still there. The dust is very thick but there is no breeze to blow the dust over the footprints. He and his crew were all presented with the Presidential Medal of Honor the highest civilian honor there is.
After Being an Astronaut
After six hundred million watched the moon landing on television Mr. Armstrong took a different career path. In the sixties during the birth of the space program astronauts did not stick around for too long so Mr. Armstrong needed a new job.
He left NASA in 1970 to become a university professor in his home state of Ohio. In 1986 he returned to NASA to help with the investigation of he failed Challenger space mission. He guarded his privacy and largely stayed out of the public eye until he gave an interview on the television program 60 Minutes in 2006.
He also released a biography in 2006. There has been many books written about Mr. Armstrong and about the Apollo 11 flight but Mr. Armstrong refused to sign any more of his books or any books that had been written about him because he found out that his autograph was being sold on the internet.
Neil Armstrong was a humble man and did not feel like he was a hero. He did not feel that his autograph was worth being sold. He considered himself simply a good American doing what he loved. He did not set out to make history he just felt that he was doing his duty as any good American should!
Only one time did he come out as a public figure and that was in 2010 to express how he felt about budget cuts to the space program. He did not agree with the budget cuts and held a news conference to express his opinion.
Mr. Armstrong died in 2012 at the age of 82 as a result of failed heart surgery. He was truly an American hero that helped ease America into the idea of traveling to outer space.