Nail Armstrong Biography and what you should know: Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on Aug. 5, 1930. His parents were Stephen Koenig Armstrong and Viola Louise Engel. Armstrong was a naval aviator from 1949 to 1952 and served in the Korean War.
Armstrong got a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1955; much later (after he became world-famous) he received a master of science in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970. As a NASA test pilot, Armstrong flew the X-15, a rocket-powered, missile-shaped aircraft that tested the limits of high-altitude flight. He flew more than 200 different aircraft, from jets to gliders and even helicopters.
In 1962, Armstrong was selected with NASA’s second group of astronauts, who flew on the two-seat Gemini missions to test out space technology, and the three-seat Apollo missions that ultimately took 12 people to the surface of the moon. Armstrong’s first flight was the command pilot of the Gemini 8 mission in March 1966, the sixth crewed mission of that series.
Armstrong and pilot David Scott did the first orbital docking of two spacecraft, joining their Gemini 8 spacecraft to an uncrewed Agena target vehicle. However, the mission quickly turned into an emergency situation when a thruster on the Gemini 8 spacecraft was stuck open. With the astronauts whipping around faster than one revolution per second, Armstrong managed to gain control again by using the re-entry system thrusters. The mission — the first serious emergency in space — ultimately ended safely, but splashed down early because the re-entry system was used.
Armstrong narrowly avoided a nasty accident in May 1968 while using the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, a machine that could fly somewhat like a lunar module and simulate landings on the moon. Fuel for his thrusters ran out and Armstrong was forced to eject just seconds before the vehicle crashed. Armstrong escaped unharmed.