Neil Alden Armstrong (born August 5, 1930) is an American aviator and a former astronaut, test pilot, university professor, and United States Naval Aviator. He was the first person to set foot on the Moon. His first spaceflight was aboard Gemini 8 in 1966, for which he was the command pilot. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft together with pilot David Scott. Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 20, 1969. On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module. Armstrong is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
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. He placed his left foot on the surface at 2:56 UTC July 21, 1969, then spoke the following:
"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind"
Armstrong accidentally dropped the "a", from his remark, rendering the phrase a contradiction (as man in such use is synonymous with mankind). Armstrong later said he "would hope that history would grant me leeway for dropping the syllable and understand that it was certainly intended, even if it was not said – although it might actually have been."
It has since been claimed that acoustic analysis of the recording reveals the presence of the missing "a". A digital audio analysis conducted by Peter Shann Ford, an Australia-based computer programmer, claims that Armstrong did, in fact, say "a man", but the "a" was inaudible due to the limitations of communications technology of the time. Ford and James R. Hansen, Armstrong's authorized biographer, presented these findings to Armstrong and NASA representatives, who conducted their own analysis. The article by Ford, however, is published on Ford's own web site rather than in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, and linguists David Beaver and Mark Liberman at Language Log were skeptical of Ford's claims. Armstrong has expressed his preference that written quotations include the "a" in parentheses.
Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was in the United States Navy and saw action in the Korean War. After the war, he served as a test pilot at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he flew over 900 flights in a variety of aircraft. As a research pilot, Armstrong served as project pilot on the F-100 Super Sabre A and C aircraft, F-101 Voodoo, and the Lockheed F-104A Starfighter. He also flew the Bell X-1B, Bell X-5, North American X-15, F-105 Thunderchief, F-106 Delta Dart, B-47 Stratojet, KC-135 Stratotanker and Paresev. He graduated from Purdue University and the University of Southern California.
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