It was July 29, 1969 when Apollo 11 finally reached the moon. Captured on the screens of millions nationwide, Ohio native Neil Alden Armstrong stepped out of the lunar module Eagle and onto the lunar surface – changing the course of history and space exploration forever. Heard round-the-world was Armstrong’s famous message: “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Armstrong is only one of the many astronauts born in Ohio – in fact, according to NASA, 25 astronauts have called Ohio home, making Ohio the fourth-largest producer of astronauts in the United States.
Why Ohio? The question brings a variety of answers, but Ohio’s history reveals a strong spirit of adventure, innovation, exploration, and a decades-long quest to uncover the unknown and go where no one has gone before.
Celebrate fifty years of exploration since the Lunar Landing and learn more about a few of Ohio’s noteworthy astronauts.
A Wapakoneta native, Neil Armstrong served in the Korean War and after finishing college, joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics – the predecessor to NASA. He joined the astronaut program in 1962 and was the command pilot for Gemini VIII before becoming the spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, where he became the first man to walk on the moon.
Learn more about Armstrong’s life and accomplishments at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio.
Courtesy of the Ohio History Connection
Born in Cambridge, John Glenn served in both World War II and the Korean War. In 1959, NASA picked its first group astronauts – the “Mercury Seven,” with Glenn as one of them. In 1962, Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth in the “Friendship Seven.” Following NASA, Glenn served as a U.S. Senator from Ohio for 25 years. In 1998, Glenn became the oldest person to fly in space – he was 77 years old.
Learn more about Glenn’s life and accomplishments at his boyhood home-turned museum, The John and Annie Glenn Museum in New Concord, Ohio.
Jim Lovell (left)
A Cleveland native, Lovell served as a Naval test pilot, where he logged over 5,000 hours of flying time. In 1962, Lovell was selected by NASA to serve in the second group of astronauts for the Gemini Program. He became the first astronaut to make four space flights as the pilot of Gemini 7, commander of Gemini 12 and Apollo 13 and the command module pilot of Apollo 8.
Courtesy of the Ohio History Connection
From Akron, Ohio, Resnik was a pioneer for women entering the NASA space program, and the second American female astronaut to travel in space. In 1978, she was one of six women accepted into the program. In 1984 on the Discovery shuttle, Resnik was responsible for a 102-foot-long-solar sail, later used to capture the sun’s energy. Tragically, Resnik passed on-board her second space launch, the Challenger, along with six crew members due to hydrogen leakage. She is remembered for her trailblazing efforts and helping pave the way for female astronauts.
Born in Euclid, Williams is a retired Navy Captain and was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 1998. She launched with the crew of STS-116, docking with the International Space Station in December 2006. On board, she served as flight engineer and established the world record for females with four spacewalks – totaling almost 30 hours. Williams has spent a total of 322 days in space on two missions and ranks sixth on the all-time U.S. endurance list (second all-time for a female astronaut). She is currently training for another mission aboard the International Space Station.
Row 1, top to bottom: Neil Armstrong – Wapakoneta
Charles A Bassett II – Dayton
Kenneth D. Cameron – Cleveland
Nancy J. Currie – Troy
Donn F. Eisele – Columbus
Michael J. Foreman – Wadsworth
Michael L. Gernhardt – Mansfield
John H. Glenn Jr. – Cambridge
Michael T. Good – Broadview Heights
Gregory J. Harbaugh – Willoughby
Karl G. Henize – Cincinnati
Row 2, top to bottom: Thomas J. Hennen – Columbus
Terence T. Hendricks – Woodville
Gregory H. Johnson – Fairborn
James A. Lovell – Cleveland
G. David Low – Cleveland
Robert F. Overmyer – Westlake
Ronald A. Parise – Warren
Judith A Resnik – Akron
Row 3, top to bottom:
Ronald M. Sega – Cleveland
Robert C. Springer – Ashland
Donald A. Thomas – Cleveland
Carl E. Walz – Cleveland
Mary Ellen Weber – Bedford Heights
Sunita L. Williams – Euclid
Want to know even more about Ohio’s astronauts? Discover the history, accomplishments and more of Ohio’s astronauts on NASA’s website.
For more adventure and exploration, Find It Here. at Ohio.org.