Former U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon,
A family statement said the 82-year-old icon died Saturday in his home
state of Ohio, following a cardiovascular procedure earlier this month.
Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on
July 20, 1969. After stepping on the lunar surface, he sent the historic
message: "that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." As
an enthralled world looked on, Armstrong spent nearly three hours
walking on the moon with fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.
Armstrong had largely withdrawn from public life in recent years. But he
spoke earlier this year at Ohio State University at an event honoring
fellow space pioneer John Glenn, former senator from Ohio.
Weeks after the moon walk, Armstrong, Aldrin and the mission's third
astronaut, Michael Collins, received a thunderous welcome with
ticker-tape parades in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. They later
made a world tour.
Apollo 11 lunar landing mission crew, pictured from left to right, Neil
A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and
Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot.
The moon walk marked America's victory in the Cold War space race with
the Soviet Union that began in October 1957 with the launch of the
Soviet satellite "Sputnik 1."
President Barack Obama, in a statement Saturday, called Armstrong "among
the greatest of American heroes, not just of his time, but of all time.
When he and his fellow crew members lifted off ... they carried with
them the aspirations of an entire nation. They set out to show the
American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable -- that with
enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible."
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney called
Armstrong an American hero who will inspire him for the rest of his
life. He praised the astronaut for operating "with courage unmeasured
and unbounded love for his country."
family statement described Armstrong as "a loving husband, grandfather
brother and friend." It asked that the public "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."
Armstrong's Apollo 11 mission earned decorations from 17 nations and
many special American honors, including the Presidential Medal of
Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the NASA
Distinguished Service Medal.
In later years, he served as Deputy Associate Administrator at NASA
headquarters, and was a professor of aerospace engineering at the
University of Cincinnati. He and his family lived on a 120-hectare farm
outside of Cincinnati.