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In 1957, he was selected for the U.S. Air Force's Man In Space Soonest program. In November 1960 Armstrong was chosen as part of the pilot consultant group for the X-20 Dyna-Soar, a military space plane.
He flew the North American X-15 on November 30, 1960, to a top altitude of 48,840 ft (14.9 km) and a top speed of Mach 1.75 (1,150 mph or 1,810 km/h).
Armstrong made seven flights in the X-15. He reached a top altitude of 207,500 ft (63.2 km) in the X-15-3, and a top speed of Mach 5.74 (4,000 mph or 6,615 km/h) in the X-15-1.
In September 1962 Armstrong was selected for NASA's Astronaut Group 2 or "The New Nine".
His first spaceflight was aboard Gemini 8 in 1966, for which he was the command pilot. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft together with pilot David Scott.
Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission on July 20, 1969. On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring while Michael Collins remained in orbit in the Command Module.
Armstrong announced shortly after the Apollo 11 flight that he did not plan to fly in space again.
Armstrong served on two spaceflight accident investigations. The first was in 1970, after Apollo 13. In 1986 President Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Rogers Commission, which investigated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster of that year.
Armstrong retired from NASA in 1971.