Neil Armstrong aged 82, died on August 25th 2012 and left his incredible mark on history as the first man to have walked on the moon with those famous words: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.
Renowned for being an astronaut, a pilot and an educator, today we pay tribute to the inspirational explorer by sharing some interesting facts about him that you might not know… FACT 1: It is said that Armstrong’s passion for flying began when he was just two years old when he was taken by his father to the National Air Races, which was held in Cleveland, Ohio.
FACT 2: Funnily enough Armstrong actually began learning to fly before he was even legally old enough to drive when he received his student pilot’s license at the age of just 16. However he was forced to take on various jobs as his parents refused to pay for the lessons!
FACT 3: Immediately after graduating from high school, Neil Armstrong received a scholarship from the U.S. Navy. He enrolled at Purdue University in Indiana and began his studies of aeronautical engineering, but in 1949 the Navy called him up to serve in the Korean War. As a U.S. Navy pilot, Armstrong flew 78 combat missions during this military conflict.
FACT 4: On the topic of the moon landing – Armstrong recalled the historical Apollo 11 flight lifting off, perched on the powerful Saturn V rocket: “It felt like a train on a bad railroad track, shaking in every direction. And it was loud, really loud."
Armstrong flew many experimental aircraft as a test pilot including the X-15 which had a top speed of 4,000 miles per hour.
In a rare interview to the news program 60 Minutes in 2006, Armstrong described the moon to interviewer Ed Bradley, explaining "It's a brilliant surface in that sunlight. The horizon seems quite close to you because the curvature is so much more pronounced than here on earth. It's an interesting place to be. I recommend it."
FACT 7: Ironically, Neil Armstrong’s so called “small step for man” was actually quite big as he had to leap 3.5 feet from the Eagles ladder to the surface as a result of landing the ship too softly – which meant the shock absorbers didn’t work.
FACT 8: Despite being one of the most famous astronauts in history, Armstrong largely shied away from the public eye. He even stopped signing autographs after he found out that people were selling them on the internet.
FACT 9: Armstrong’s legacy will last a million years. The inspirational explorers famous boot prints on the moon could remain undisturbed for eons due to the fact that the Moon has no appreciable atmosphere.
FACT 10: A touching statement released by Neil Armstrong’s family after his death read: "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”
Find about more about Neil Armstrong's life in One Giant Leap: A Neil Armstrong Tribute tonight at 9pm on Discovery Science.
RELATED LINKS :
See our photo gallery of incredible Space Flight Firsts.
Find out more about The Last Shuttle.