Neil Armstrong, First Man on the Moon, Turns 79 Today
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, turns 79 today, as he was born August 5, 1930. He is of course, most famous for being the first person to take steps on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Both Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent two and a half hours exploring the moon surface that day, and the face of space exploration changed forever.
Neil Armstrong also served in the United States Navy before becoming an astronaut, and he served in the Korean War. After the war he was a research pilot for a time before NASA came calling.
Born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, Armstrong was one of three children, and he became active in the Boy Scouts when he was young. He studied aerospace engineering at Purdue University and was accepted in to MIT, but he did not go after he was convinced not to.
He was selected for the US Air Force's Man in Space Soonest program in 1957, and then he applied for the Apollo program and was accepted on September 13, 1962.
Armstrong was the commander of Apollo 11, and originally he was not supposed to be the first man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin was. But the design of the LM cabin was the reason that Armstrong had to go out first apparently as he was nearest the hatch.
Although the official NASA flight plan called for a crew rest period before extra-vehicular activity, Armstrong requested that the EVA be moved earlier in the evening, Houston time. Once Armstrong and Aldrin were ready to go outside, Eagle was depressurized, the hatch was opened and Armstrong made his way down the ladder first.
At the bottom of the ladder, Armstrong said "I'm going to step off the LEM now" (referring to the Apollo Lunar Module). He then turned and set his left boot on the surface at 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969. Then spoke the famous words "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."