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Neil Armstrong on Apollo 8

March 2, 2009

On December 11th, 2008, the crew of Apollo 8 and other NASA astronauts and alumni visited the museum to celebrate Apollo 8’s 40th anniversary. For those of you who could not attend, or who wish to relive the evening, we plan to post the evening events as separate videos over the next month. This sixth post shows the remarks made by the Apollo 8 backup commander, Neil Armstrong. Enjoy!

The U.S. Navy called up Neil Armstrong in the winter of 1949. Eighteen months later, he became a Naval Aviator. After seeing combat in the Korean War, in 1955 he became a civilian test pilot. During his test pilot career he piloted the X-15 rocket plane, which he flew 26.5 miles into the air (about 25-30 miles short of being in space, depending on who you ask). Armed with a BS in Aeronautical Engineering and an MS in Aerospace Engineering, Armstrong was selected for the second wave of NASA astronaut selections. Chief astronaut Deke Slayton called Armstrong on September 13, 1962 to invite him to join the “New Nine.”

Armstrong’s first assignment was as Command Pilot for Gemini 8 along with Dave Scott. During the mission he rendezvoused and docked with an Agena target vehicle. Not long afterward, the spacecraft began to spin out of control. The two astronauts almost lost consciousness, but thanks to Armstrong’s test piloting skills he steadied the spacecraft and began an emergency reentry. After serving on the backup crew for Gemini 11 and Apollo 8, NASA assigned him as Commander of Apollo 11. You all know what happened there.

Armstrong has stated that it was only because of all the flights before Apollo 11 that he could make the first manned landing on the moon. Apollo 8, in particular, showed that humans could fly all the way to the moon and return safely. In the video below, Armstrong talks about the importance of humanity’s first trip to the moon: (please turn up your speaker volume, the audio is very low)

Watch other videos from the Apollo 8 4oth Anniversary: Glynn Lunney, Moderated Forum Part 1Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4, Bill Anders.

To find out more about Neil Armstrong, click here.

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