Astronaut Neil Armstrong, First Man to Walk on Moon, Dead at 82
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died Saturday, weeks after heart surgery and days after his 82nd birthday.
His family reported the death at 2:45 p.m. ET. A statement said he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.
Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, and he radioed back to Earth the historic news: ”That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”
He spent nearly three hours walking on the moon with fellow astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.
In those first few moments on the moon, during the climax of heated space race with the then-Soviet Union, Armstrong stopped in what he called “a tender moment” and left a patch to commemorate NASA astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who had died in action.
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.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said “as long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them.”
Bolden said in a statement that Armstrong will be “remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own.”
Armstrong was “one of America’s greatest explorers” who readily accepted President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to send an American to the moon, Bolden said.
Michael Collins, a crew mate of Armstrong’s on the Apollo 11 flight, said through NASA’s senior spokesman, Bob Jacobs: “He was the best, and I will miss him terribly.”
Armstrong and his wife, Carol, married in 1999, made their home in the Cincinnati suburb of Indian Hill, but he had largely stayed out of public view in recent years. His birthday was Aug. 5.
Armstrong is survived by his two sons, a stepson and stepdaughter, 10 grandchildren, a brother and a sister, NASA said.