By the time Neil Armstrong had reached his 30s, he had already logged an impressive career as an aerospace engineer, U.S. Navy officer, veteran of the Korean War, and test pilot. He retired from the Navy in 1960 and, just two years later, joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He didn’t retire from aerospace, however, and kept reach for the stars.
Four years later, in 1966, he took to space for first time—as part of the Gemini 8 mission—at the age of 35. The Gemini 8 mission marked the first time two spacecraft docked in orbit and the first critical in-space system failure of a U.S. spacecraft.
Armstrong’s second and final space flight came in 1969, aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft. In this historic, manned space mission, he and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and spent 2 and a half hours exploring the lunar surface.
Armstrong won accolades and awards, including the Congressional Gold Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, among others. Neil Alden Armstrong passed away on 25 August 2012, at the age of 82, from complications related to blocked coronary arteries and bypass surgery.
“When President Kennedy challenged the nation to send a human to the moon, Neil Armstrong accepted without reservation,” recalls NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “As we enter this next era of space exploration, we do so standing on the shoulders of Neil Armstrong. We mourn the passing of a friend, fellow astronaut, and true American hero.”
“Neil’s spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown–including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space,” President Obama explains. “That legacy will endure–sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step.”
Godspeed, Neil Armstrong. From one mil/aero professional to another: thank you.