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Armstrong, Neil (Alden)

moon spacecraft manned space

(1930– ) US astronaut: the first man to walk on the Moon.

This most dramatic act of manned exploration occurred on 20 July 1969 and represented success in a curious international contest. In 1957 the USSR had placed an unmanned spacecraft (Sputnik) into orbit, and this blow to national self-esteem in the USA led to President Kennedy in 1961 committing his country to a manned moon-landing within the decade.

The Manned Spacecraft Centre, at Houston, TX, worked for this result and success came with the Apollo 11 flight commanded by Armstrong. He had served as a naval aviator in the Korean War and later studied aeronautical engineering at Purdue University, IN, and the University of Southern California before joining the organization which became NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in 1955. By 1969 he was well equipped to land a spacecraft on the Moon, under his manual control. The scientific results of the visit were limited and were exceeded by the results from unmanned space probes. Armstrong left NASA in 1971 and, after a period as professor of aeronautical engineering at Cincinnati, OH, became a businessman from 1980.

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