Neil Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, when he became the first human being to set foot on the moon. Neil Armstrong was a veteran aviator: he had flown 78 combat missions over Korea as a Navy fighter pilot, then joined NASA as a civilian test pilot. He was accepted into the astronaut corps in 1962. Armstrong was the pilot of the Gemini 8 mission (launched 16 March 1966) and then was named commander for the Apollo 11 mission of 1969. Along with crewmates Michael Collins
and Buzz Aldrin
, Armstrong flew to the moon; while Collins circled the moon in the command module Columbia,
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the lunar surface in the lunar module Eagle.
Armstrong was the first to step onto the moon's surface, uttering the famous phrase "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." The trio returned safely to Earth and were welcomed as worldwide heroes. After retiring from NASA in 1971, Neil Armstrong taught aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati for nearly a decade. He kept a low profile, making few public appearances and never trading on his celebrity. His authorized biography, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong
, was written by former NASA historian James Hansen and published in 2005. He died in 2012 after suffering complications from a heart bypass.