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One giant leap for mankind

Apollo 11 patch

It is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, an event that stays fixed in the minds of anybody who experienced it firsthand as one of the touchstones — and especially television touchstones, in a time when there was no CNN or MSNBC — of a lifetime. Such an important event begs for coverage of the men who made it happen, and Biography Resource Center has plenty to slake your moonwalker thirst:

  • Neil Armstrong — 11 narrative biographies
  • Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin — 4 narrative biographies
  • Michael Collins — 1 narrative biography

Like a number of astronauts, Armstrong was an experienced test pilot.

Also in 1956, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). In this capacity, he served as test pilot for supersonic F-100A, F-100C, F-101, F-104A, X-1B, X-5, F-105, 106, B-47, KC-135, and Paresev jets, and flew X-15s up to 4,000 miles per hour, forty miles high. He was also a pilot for the experimental Dynasoar, a craft designed to orbit Earth and reenter the atmosphere, landing like a plane.

Aldrin, despite a great desire to be one, was not.

In the formative years of the Space Program, in order to participate in the National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s (NASA) astronaut program, candidates were required to have attended test-pilot school. Aldrin passed the age limit to enter test-pilot school while he was at MIT, but believed this requirement would soon eliminated. He was right. After he completed a series of strenuous mental and physical fitness tests, Aldrin was selected to be in NASA’s third group of astronauts in October of 1963. There were 14 pilots chosen for this group–seven Air Force pilots, including Aldrin, four Navy pilots, one Marine pilot, and two civilian pilots. Aldrin was the first astronaut to hold a doctoral degree and the only astronaut who was not a test pilot.

Check out some great footage of the landing, recently restored at NASA. And don’t miss the Smithsonian’s excellent Apollo Program site.

Also, ResourceShelf has an excellent roundup of links to follow STS-127, the latest space launch, currently scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern.

Sources:
“Armstrong, Neil Alden.” The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives Thematic Series: The 1960s. Ed. William L. O’Neill and Kenneth T. Jackson. 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003.
“Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr., Dr.” Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement, Vol. 18. Gale Research, 1998.

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Posted on: July 16, 2009, 10:08 am Category: Factoids Tagged with: , , , , ,

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