Astronaut Neil Armstrong (b.1930) died on August 25. Armstrong was selected in 1958 for the Man in Space Soonest program to beat the USSR into space, but the program was cancelled shortly after it was started. Two years later, he was selected for the Dynasoar project, which was also cancelled. In 1962, he joined NASA in the second flight group, eventually flying on Gemini 8 with Eugene Cernan to conduct the first docking of two spacecraft, but which also suffered a failure that put Armstrong and Cernan’s lives at risk. In 1969, as the Commander of Apollo 11, with Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the Moon. After retiring from NASA in 1971, Armstrong maintained a low profile, teaching at the University of Cincinnati. He served on accident commissions following the Apollo 13 mission and the Challenger explosion.
Astronauts John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were honored on November 16 when they were each awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda. The medals were presented by Representatives John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi and Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the United States. Glenn flew into space twice, on the third Mercury mission and on STS-95. Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins flew on the first lunar landing mission and each also flew on a Gemini mission. The Apollo astronauts received the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1969.
The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has set up a website which will recreate the Apollo 11 mission in real time on the fortieth anniversary of the event. The website will go live at 8:02 AM ET on Thursday, July 16, ninety minutes before that anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and will continue throughout the entire mission, which included Armstrong and Aldrin’s first walk on the moon on July 20.