WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Former astronaut Neil Armstrong has agreed to donate personal papers dating from the start of his flight career to his alma mater, Purdue University.
Armstrong's papers, boxes of which have already begun arriving at Purdue, will be an inspiration for students and invaluable for researchers, said Sammie Morris, assistant professor of library science and head of Purdue Libraries' Archives and Special Collections.
"For researchers, it's going to be a boon. No one has been able to research these papers or study them," Morris said.
Purdue President France A. Cordova, who became NASA's first female chief scientist, plans to announce Armstrong's donation Saturday before the Purdue-Michigan football game.
She also plans to use that event to announce that James R. Hansen, author of the 2005 book "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong," is donating 55 hours of one-on-one recorded interviews with Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon.
Armstrong's papers and Hansen's interviews will serve as the starting point for Purdue Libraries' effort to build a comprehensive flight collection. They'll be housed in a special collection that also holds papers and artifacts related to aviator Amelia Earhart, who vanished in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world.
Armstrong graduated from Purdue in 1955 with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering, after a year and a half break from his studies to serve as a U.S. Navy pilot in the Korean War. He was named a NASA astronaut in 1962.
On July 20, 1969, Armstrong maneuvered the Apollo 11 landing module past a region of the moon littered with boulders to bring the lander to a safe touchdown with 30 seconds of fuel remaining.
After climbing a ladder to the moon's surface, he uttered the now-famous phrase, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."