NASA

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip?

By Briana Altergott | July 19, 2014

You probably recognize this face. And if you don't, you'll definitely recognize this famous statement. (Via NASA)

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." (Via NASA)

That's Neil Armstrong, the very first man to walk on the moon.

Armstrong was on board Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, when it made history as the first spacecraft to land on the moon. On top of being the first man to land a spacecraft there, he also became the first to step foot on its surface. (Via CBS)

But as the world celebrates the 45th anniversary of that historic trip, we have to wonder — what happened to Neil Armstrong after he took that giant leap for mankind?

NEIL ARMSTRONG: "The important achievement of Apollo was a demonstration that humanity is not forever chained to this planet. Our visions go rather further than that." (Via BBC)

As it turns out, the Apollo 11 mission would be Armstrong's last venture as an astronaut. (Via NASA)

He stayed on with NASA as the deputy associate administrator for aeronautics for about another year, then left NASA entirely in 1971. (Via Biography.com)

Armstrong moved on that same year to fulfill another passion — teaching. He joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati, where he became a professor of aerospace engineering.

He said in an interview back in 2001 for NASA's Johnson Space Center Oral History Project, "I'd always said to colleagues and friends that one day I'd go back to the university. I'd done a little teaching before. There were a lot of opportunities, but the University of Cincinnati invited me to go there as a faculty member and pretty much gave me carte blanche to do what I wanted to do."

After teaching there for eight years, Armstrong decided to leave academia. He bought a farm near Lebanon, Ohio, and entered into private business, serving as the director for several corporations. (Via Getty Images)

But that didn't stop him from staying active in the world of space exploration and aviation. Armstrong became the chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation, Inc., from 1982 to 1992. (Via C-SPAN)

He played a key role in the investigation into the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster as vice chairman to the Rogers Commission. (Via CNN)

And, in his later years, the notoriously press-shy Armstrong returned to the spotlight to express his concerns over changes made to the U.S. space program. (Via Getty Images)

In 2010, he testified in Congress against President Barack Obama's decision to cancel the Constellation program, which included another mission to the moon. (Via Getty Images)

"If the leadership we have acquired through our investment is simply allowed to fade away, other nations will surely step in where we have faltered." (Via PBS)

In August 2012, Armstrong underwent a heart bypass operation, and a few weeks later he died of complications from that surgery. He was 82 years old. (Via Getty Images)

Shortly after his death, his family released a statement: "Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink."

According to NASA's biography of Armstrong, he was decorated by 17 countries and was the recipient of many honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. (Via NASA)

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