Neil Armstrong, a quiet self-described nerdy engineer who became a global hero when he made “one giant leap for mankind” with a small step on to the moon, died today at age 82.
Mr. Armstrong died after complications from cardiovascular procedures, according to a statement from his family. The statement did not say where he died. He lived in Cincinnati.
He commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, capping the most daring of the 20th century’s scientific expeditions. His first words after setting foot on the surface are etched in history books and the memories of those who heard them in a live broadcast.
“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” Mr. Armstrong said.
In those first moments on the moon, during the climax of heated space race with the then-Soviet Union, Mr. Armstrong stopped in what he called “a tender moment” and left a patch commemorate NASA astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who had died in action.
“It was special and memorable but it was only instantaneous because there was work to do,” he told an Australian television interviewer in 2012.
Mr. Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, who was known as Buzz, spent nearly three hours walking on the lunar surface, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs.
The moonwalk marked America’s victory in the cold war space race that began Oct. 4, 1957, with the launch of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1, a 184-pound satellite that sent shock waves around the world.
Although he had been a Navy fighter pilot, a test pilot for NASA’s forerunner and an astronaut, Armstrong never allowed himself to be caught up in the celebrity and glamor of the space program.
“I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer,” he said in February 2000 in one of his rare public appearances. “And I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession.”
Neil Armstrong was bigger than life because his bags were packed with our dreams and hopes as he ventured where none had gone before. Thank you Mr Armstrong for making a kid from from a small town in North Carolina believe that anything was possible. You will never be forgotten.
RIP Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong, photo is taken inside the lander after the moonwalk on July 20, 1969 – NASA/Associated Press