Five years ago a man died who left the first traces on the Moon – this he remembered for most people on the planet. Few people know that he was also a prototype pilot of the lunar module (LLRV), and the first person to make manual docking of spacecraft (during the Gemini-8 mission), a test pilot, and a deck pilot. And every time – his life "hung by a thread."
Childhood, studies and military service
Armstrong was born August 5, 1930, in the family of the auditor – so that the family often moved: for his childhood the family changed 20 cities. Nile's love for planes manifested itself at an early age, after two years his father took him to the National Air Race, and already at five years old (in 1936) – he had the opportunity to fly himself.
In 1944 (at the age of 14 Years), after the death of his father, he entered the flight school of his city. And already on his 16th birthday – he got a pilot's license (earlier than a driver's license). The following year he entered the bachelor's degree of Purdue University in the direction of aviation engineering, in accordance with the contract with the Navy (who paid for his training). Under the contract, after two years of training at the university, and an additional two years of flight training – he was to serve in the US Navy for a year.
After training at the university, he arrived on January 26, 1949 for flight training, which he finished on August 16 1950 – two weeks after his 20th anniversary, having received the title of deck pilot. And already in 20 and a half years (January 5, 1951), he made the first landing on an aircraft carrier "Essex" on the Grumman F9F "Pantera" aircraft.
His aircraft carrier was sent In South Korea, where at that time there was a Korean war. Five days after the first departure, its F9F-2 was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and a piece of about a meter long fell off from the right wing. The aircraft partially retained controllability, and managed to reach the friendly territory, but because of the loss of the ailerons, he had no other chance of ejecting. After landing, he was picked up by a jeep that his roommate was leading in a flying school. In total, in Korea, he made 78 sorties, lasting 121 hours, after which he left the navy on August 23, 1952.
Then Neil returned to study, and in 1955 received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering , Then decided to become a test pilot. He submitted documents to the High-speed flight station (now known as the Armstrong Flight Research Center) under the auspices of NACA (NASA's predecessor). But at that time there were no vacant seats, so from March to July 1955 he was sent to the Lewis flight propulsion laboratory (now known as the Lewis Space Research Center).
Career of the pilot- Tester
Here he flew on different models of aircraft, one of which was the B-29 "Superfortress" (the descendant of the "Flying Fortress" of the Second World War). During the flight on March 22, 1956 on this airplane (as a co-pilot), he had to drop the D-558-2 "Skyrocket" rocket, suspended under the fuselage, at the given altitude.
During the ascent, on Altitude of 9 km the 4th engine stopped, after which its propeller began to rotate under the influence of the incoming air. The pilots needed to stop its rotation with a tumbler (excessive propeller acceleration threatened its destruction), but after a brief slowdown – the propeller again began to unwind. They decided to drop the Skyrocket, and to make an emergency landing (since they could not sit down with a suspended airplane – they could not):
They lowered the nose of the plane to gain the speed needed To reset "Skyrocket", and at the time of separation – the propeller of the 4th engine collapsed. The wreckage of the propeller damaged the 3rd engine, and touched the 2 nd, the pilots also had to turn off the 1st engine in order to compensate for the torque. They performed a slow circling descent (spirally), and landed in safety.
As a test pilot, he participated in the tests of the F-100 Super Saber A and C, the F-101 Voodoo, the F-104A Starfighter, and On August 15, 1957, he had the opportunity to fly to the famous Bell X-1B (late modification of the airplane for the first time breaking the sound barrier), during which the front landing gear broke down during landing (what happened to this aircraft earlier). He also conducted 7 sorties from November 1960 to July 1962 on an experimental X-15 rocket, which reached an altitude of 63.2 km (below the Karman line), and a Mach velocity of 5.74
In 1958, he Was selected for a program involving the launch of a Soviet astronaut into space before the Soviet cosmonaut, but on August 1 of the same year the program was disbanded in favor of the Mercury program, and on October 1, the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) was transformed into NASA ( Existing until now). Of the nine volunteers, only two were destined to reach the cosmos: Joseph Walker and Neil Armstrong, and only one (Neil) – managed to reach the Earth's orbit.
In November 1960, he was selected as one of seven pilots for Program X-20 Dyna-Soar, which was also subsequently closed. Of this group, there was one Nile in space: although William Dana was recognized by NASA as an astronaut 39 years after flying more than 50 miles (considered a space border in the US) on the X-15, he never managed to cross the Karman line (
The career of astronaut Armstrong was rescued by the premature withdrawal from the X-20 Dyna-Soar program – he managed to apply for the Apollo program one week before the deadline for applications (scheduled for June 1, 1962) . The X-20 Dyna-Soar program was closed on December 10, 1963, when the third set of NASA was already completed, in the 4th, only scientists were recruited, and until the fifth, there were 2.5 years.
On September 20, 1965, he was assigned to the mission of "Gemini 8" in which they were to make the first docking of spacecraft for the US (and the first hand-held spacecraft in the world) , And his partner, David Scott – to perform the second in the US astronaut output into space. The entire operation was to take 75 hours.
Adzhen was launched into orbit on March 16, 1966, at 15.00 UTC on the Atlas rocket. Approximately two hours later, making sure that it was in the right orbit – on the rocket Titan 2 was launched by the manned Gemini-8. The automatic approach system radar captured the "Agenu" from a distance of 332 km, and the system brought Gemini-8 to a distance of 46 m to the module, and after a half-hour inspection (which is all right with the module), Armstrong docked at 22.14 on the same day.
Almost immediately after docking, Agen completed the command for a 90 ° turn (stored in her memory), resulting in a bunch of spins. Armstrong issued a command to the engines of Gemini-8 to pay off the rotation, but it immediately began to increase again. Noticing the fuel drop in the orientation tanks to 30%, they realized that the problem is that one of its engines did not turn off. They decoupled from Adzhena (in which there was a lot of fuel, and which could be destroyed by the action of rotation), gave the impulse to move away from it, and completely disabled the orbital engine.
After that, they manually turned off the rotation of the landing engines Orientation (which accounted for almost 75% of the fuel reserve of this system). During the accident, the rotation speed reached 1 rev / s, the overload – 3.5 g, and the astronauts had a tunnel vision effect, which threatened complete loss of consciousness. Because of the loss of most of the fuel, the spacewalk had to be canceled, and instead of 75 hours – their mission ended abruptly after ten and a half.
Next, he was appointed assistant in the preparation of the reserve staff of Gemini-11, and performed The role of CAPCOM during the mission (this is the only person who communicates with astronauts on behalf of the MCC – in the United States, active astronauts are often chosen for this role). After this mission, President Lyndon Johnson asked him and his wife to go on a tour with him in 11 countries.
In preparation for the landing On the Moon pilots needed to work out a vertical landing, so NASA ordered from Bell Aircraft Corporation two test, and three training aircraft for moon landing (LLRV and LLTV). Which for their appearance, unlike any other aircraft – got the nickname of "flying beds" (a similar device appeared even earlier, but it was used to test the landing of the YAK-38 deck attack aircraft on the deck of an aircraft carrier, rather than landing on the Moon , But received a similar nickname – "flying table").
During the flight on May 8, 1968 the device lost controllability and crashed. Armstrong managed to catapult 1.5 seconds before collision with the ground. After the accident, he went to the office for nothing for the rest of the day to do paper work.
After the appointment as commander in the reserve of Apollo 8, according to the standard rotation of personnel – December 23, 1968, he was appointed to the main crew of the Apollo 11 (also commander). However, the decision that Armstrong would be the first to come to the surface was taken only in March 1969, as one of the reasons was the lack of a big ego.
At a press conference on April 14, this was officially approved. The reason was that the commander of the lunar module (Buzz Aldrin) sitting at the exit – it is more difficult to get out, since the door opens into the inside. Such a decision, perhaps, was almost worth it to both astronauts of life: coming out of the lunar module, Armstrong hooked his cumbersome spacesuit tumbler, which was supposed to run the take-off engine. The mission was saved by a felt-tip pen that was in Aldrin's pocket in the suit. A broken tumbler, and that felt-tip pen – Aldrin still stores.
During the descent over the Moon, they established that several kilometers of the supposed landing site had flown by. The computer module issued two errors, but after communication with the PMU it turned out that they do not pose any danger, and the landing can be continued. In the proposed landing site, there were many stones, Armstrong decided to put the landing in manual mode, and look for another place. At the time of landing, they had fuel for less than 30 seconds of regular work (another 20 seconds of emergency reserves were allocated to launch the take-off module, in case of landing cancellation). During this process Armstrong's pulse reached a peak of 160 beats per minute (although even at the start of Saturn-5 it did not rise above 110 strokes).
This is one small step for a man, but a giant leap for everything Of humanity. "
It is estimated that this phrase Neil Armstrong heard on the air 450 million people (out of the 3.6 billion people who lived at that time), around the world, with the exception of China and the USSR. After returning and 18 days of quarantine, he visited 25 countries in 35 days, including the USSR:
Shortly thereafter, he announced that he was not going to fly into space anymore. He was appointed Deputy Director for Aviation at ARPA (now known as DARPA), but left there for a year. In 1970 he received a Master of Science degree and received a post of professor of aerospace sciences at the University of Cincinnati, where he worked for 8 years (until 1979).
After leaving NASA in 1971, he served as chairman of several commercial firms , And even starred in advertising Chrysler. He returned twice to NASA: to investigate the accident of Apollo 13, and the crash of the shuttle "Challenger." In 1985, he visited the North Pole, including Edmund Hillary and Steve Fossett. He spent the last years of his life on his farm in Ohio, spending free time flying on a glider.
During his career, he flew on more than 200 models of airplanes, helicopters and gliders; And also was the holder of 40 world records in aviation and cosmonautics.