Neil Armstrong, 1st man on the moon, dies at 82 (Update)

Aug 25, 2012 by LISA CORNWELL
This July 20, 1969 file photo provided by NASA shows Neil Armstrong. The family of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, says he died Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, at age 82. A statement from the family says he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. It doesn't say where he died. Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969. He radioed back to Earth the historic news of "one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs. In all, 12 Americans walked on the moon from 1969 to 1972. (AP Photo/NASA)

Neil Armstrong was a quiet, self-described "nerdy" engineer who became a global hero when as a steely nerved U.S. pilot he made "one giant leap for mankind" with the first step on the moon. The modest man who entranced and awed people on Earth has died. He was 82.

Armstrong died Saturday following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures, a statement from his family said. It didn't say where he died.

Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon 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 in the memories of those who heard them in a live broadcast.

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," Armstrong said.

In those first few moments on the moon, during the climax of a 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.

"It was special and memorable, but it was only instantaneous because there was work to do," Armstrong told an Australian television interviewer this year.

Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the lunar surface, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs.

"The sights were simply magnificent, beyond any visual experience that I had ever been exposed to," Armstrong once said.

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 satellite that sent shock waves around the world.

An estimated 600 million people—a fifth of the world's population—watched and listened to the moon landing, the largest audience for any single event in history.

Parents huddled with their children in front of the family television, mesmerized. Farmers abandoned their nightly milking duties, and motorists pulled off the highway and checked into motels just to watch on TV.

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 glamour of the space program.

In this July 20, 1969 file photo provided by NASA shows Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin, the first men to land on the moon, plant the U.S. flag on the lunar surface. The family of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, says he has died at age 82. A statement from the family says he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. It doesn't say where he died. Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969. He radioed back to Earth the historic news of "one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs. In all, 12 Americans walked on the moon from 1969 to 1972. (AP Photo/NASA)

"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."

Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley, who interviewed Armstrong for oral histories for NASA, said Armstrong fit every requirement the space agency needed for the first man to walk on the moon, especially because of his engineering skills and the way he handled celebrity by shunning it.

"I think his genius was in his reclusiveness," said Brinkley. "He was the ultimate hero in an era of corruptible men."

A man who kept away from cameras, Armstrong went public in 2010 with his concerns about President Barack Obama's space policy that shifted attention away from a return to the moon and emphasized private companies developing spaceships.

NASA chief Charles Bolden recalled Armstrong's grace and humility in a statement Saturday.

"As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind's first small step on a world beyond our own," Bolden said.

In a statement issued by the White House, Obama said Armstrong was one of the greatest of American heroes, "not just of his time, but of all time."

In this 1969 photo provided by NASA the crew of the Apollo 11 mission is seen. From left are Neil Armstrong, Mission Commander, Michael Collins, Lt. Col. USAF, and Edwin Eugene Aldrin, also known as Buzz Aldrin, USAF Lunar Module pilot. The family of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, says he died Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, at age 82. A statement from the family says he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. It doesn't say where he died. Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969. He radioed back to Earth the historic news of "one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs. In all, 12 Americans walked on the moon from 1969 to 1972. (AP Photo/NASA, File)

Armstrong's modesty and self-effacing manner never faded.

When he appeared in Dayton, Ohio, in 2003 to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of powered flight, he bounded onto a stage before 10,000 people. But he spoke for only a few seconds, did not mention the moon and quickly ducked out of the spotlight.

He later joined former astronaut and Sen. John Glenn to lay wreaths on the graves of airplane inventors Wilbur and Orville Wright. Glenn introduced Armstrong and noted it was 34 years to the day that Armstrong had walked on the moon.

"Thank you, John. Thirty-four years?" Armstrong quipped, as if he hadn't given it a thought.

At another joint appearance, the two embraced and Glenn commented: "To this day, he's the one person on Earth, I'm truly, truly envious of."

Armstrong's moonwalk capped a series of accomplishments that included piloting the X-15 rocket plane and making the first space docking during the Gemini 8 mission, which included a successful emergency splashdown.

In the years afterward, Armstrong retreated to the quiet of the classroom and his Ohio farm. Aldrin said in his book "Men from Earth" that Armstrong was one of the quietest, most private men he had ever met.

In the Australian interview, Armstrong acknowledged that "now and then I miss the excitement about being in the cockpit of an airplane and doing new things."

At the time of the flight's 40th anniversary, Armstrong again was low-key, telling a gathering that the space race was "the ultimate peaceful competition: USA versus U.S.S.R. It did allow both sides to take the high road, with the objectives of science and learning and exploration."

Glenn, who went through jungle training in Panama with Armstrong as part of the astronaut program, described him as "exceptionally brilliant" with technical matters but "rather retiring, doesn't like to be thrust into the limelight much."

Glenn said Saturday that Armstrong had had a number of close calls in his career. He recalled how Armstrong had just 15 seconds to 35 seconds of fuel remaining when he landed on the moon. He called Armstrong's skill and dedication "just exemplary."

In this July 16, 1969 file photo, Neil Armstrong waving in front, heads for the van that will take the crew to the rocket for launch to the moon at Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Fla. The family of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, says he died Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, at age 82. A statement from the family says he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. It doesn't say where he died. Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969. He radioed back to Earth the historic news of "one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs. In all, 12 Americans walked on the moon from 1969 to 1972. (AP Photo/File)

Derek Elliott, curator of the Smithsonian Institution's U.S. Air and Space Museum from 1982 to 1992, said the moonwalk probably marked the high point of space exploration.

"The fact that we were able to see it and be a part of it means that we are in our own way witnesses to history," he said.

The 1969 landing met an audacious deadline that President John F. Kennedy had set in May 1961, shortly after Alan Shepard became the first American in space with a 15-minute suborbital flight. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri A. Gagarin had orbited the Earth and beaten the U.S. into space the previous month.

"I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth," Kennedy had said. "No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important to the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."

The end-of-decade goal was met with more than five months to spare. "Houston: Tranquility Base here," Armstrong radioed after the spacecraft settled onto the moon. "The Eagle has landed."

"Roger, Tranquility," the Houston staffer radioed back. "We copy you on the ground. You've got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot."

The third astronaut on the mission, Michael Collins, circled the moon in the mother ship Columbia while Armstrong and Aldrin went to the moon's surface.

Collins told NASA on Saturday that he will miss Armstrong terribly, spokesman Bob Jacobs tweeted.

In this Monday, Feb. 20, 2012, file photo provided by NASA, Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong speaks at a celebration dinner honoring John Glenn in Columbus, Ohio. The family of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, says he died Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, at age 82. A statement from the family says he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. It doesn't say where he died. Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969. He radioed back to Earth the historic news of "one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs. In all, 12 Americans walked on the moon from 1969 to 1972. (AP Photo/NASA, Bill Ingalls, File)

In all, 12 American astronauts walked on the moon between 1969 and the last moon mission in 1972.

For Americans, reaching the moon provided uplift and respite from the Vietnam War. The landing occurred as organizers were preparing for Woodstock, the legendary rock festival on a farm in New York.

Armstrong was born Aug. 5, 1930, on a farm in Ohio. He took his first airplane ride at age 6 and developed a fascination with aviation that prompted him to build model airplanes and conduct experiments in a homemade wind tunnel. He was licensed to fly at 16, before he got his driver's license.

Armstrong enrolled in Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering but was called to duty with the U.S. Navy in 1949 and flew 78 combat missions in Korea. After the war, Armstrong finished his degree and later earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California. He became a test pilot with what evolved into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, flying more than 200 kinds of aircraft from gliders to jets.

Armstrong was accepted into NASA's second astronaut class in 1962—the first, including Glenn, was chosen in 1959—and commanded the Gemini 8 mission in 1966. After the first space docking, he brought the capsule back in an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean when a wildly firing thruster kicked it out of orbit.

Armstrong was backup commander for the historic Apollo 8 mission at Christmastime in 1968. In that flight, Commander Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell and Bill Anders circled the moon 10 times, and paving the way for the lunar landing seven months later.

Aldrin said he and Armstrong were not prone to free exchanges of sentiment.

"But there was that moment on the moon, a brief moment, in which we sort of looked at each other and slapped each other on the shoulder ... and said, 'We made it. Good show,' or something like that," Aldrin said.

In Wapakoneta, media and souvenir frenzy was swirling around the home of Armstrong's parents.

"You couldn't see the house for the news media," recalled John Zwez, former manager of the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum. "People were pulling grass out of their front yard."

Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were given ticker tape parades in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and later made a 22-nation world tour. A homecoming in Wapakoneta drew 50,000 people to the city of 9,000.

In 1970, Armstrong was appointed deputy associate administrator for aeronautics at NASA but left the following year to teach aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

He remained there until 1979 and during that time bought a farm, where he raised cattle and corn. He stayed out of public view, accepting few requests for interviews or speeches.

"He didn't give interviews, but he wasn't a strange person or hard to talk to," said Ron Huston, a colleague at the University of Cincinnati. "He just didn't like being a novelty."

In February 2000, when he agreed to announce the top 20 engineering achievements of the 20th century as voted by the National Academy of Engineering, Armstrong said there was one disappointment relating to his moonwalk.

"I can honestly say—and it's a big surprise to me—that I have never had a dream about being on the moon," he said.

Armstrong married Carol Knight in 1999. He had two adult sons from a previous marriage.

His family's statement Saturday made a simple request for anyone who wanted to remember him:

"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."

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User comments : 19

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Dhanne
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 25, 2012
Mankind will always remember this man, maybe even more in the future than now.

A question rises: who will be the next?
chardo137
5 / 5 (2) Aug 25, 2012
All hail Neil Armstrong !!!
Infinity_
5 / 5 (2) Aug 25, 2012
Even though He is gone He's footprints are still up there.
tekram
2.8 / 5 (6) Aug 25, 2012
I think when Armstrong mentioned he never had a dream about the moon, he may had been subconsciously thinking that America's accomplishment and his role in getting to the moon had no real lasting meaning; that the dream was unfulfilled. The words "giant leap for mankind" rings hollow because there was no giant leap in technology or follow through for manned space exploration. It was a great accomplishment in beating the soviets, but then that was it.
CapitalismPrevails
3 / 5 (4) Aug 25, 2012
RIP Neil Armstrong. Your name will survive above Chuck Yeager, Charles Lindberg, and Christopher Columbus.

Now who will be the first man to set foot on another planet?
Shootist
3.3 / 5 (7) Aug 26, 2012
RIP Neil Armstrong. Your name will survive above Chuck Yeager, Charles Lindberg, and Christopher Columbus.

Now who will be the first man to set foot on another planet?


I dunno, but it will probably be something similar to Wang or Li.
alfie_null
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 26, 2012
I dunno, but it will probably be something similar to Wang or Li.

Competition might be good. Considering all the factors that interfere with having a coherent, long term U.S. space program.
Skepticus
3 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2012
Rest in peace now. You'll be troubled no more whether your unique achievement brought about peace between man; or whether it opened a new horizon in which humans will be thinking as a species; or it helped to rectify the situation of the age-old games of stately alpha-males domination and manipulation of others. Sleep well my man, now you are beyond politics and orders that you had to obey as a loyal citizen of the state, now you can roam the stars. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, Amen.
DavidW
1 / 5 (10) Aug 26, 2012
"Armstrong, who died from complications following cardiac bypass surgery,..."

Now if he was shot with a gun it would say that he died from complications due to being shot and attempts to save his life failed.

The blockage was from eating animals and animal products. Neil died because he choose to kill and harm animals needlessly (for the sole purpose of self-gratifaction).

All the people fighting this fact over the years trying to justify this harmful needless behavior of consuming animals are just as responsible, as he is, for his death. What a needless waste and a terrible loss. May God rest your soul, Neil.
wwqq
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 27, 2012
@davidW

He lived to 82 you moron; US life expectancy at birth 1930 was 58 years.

The best evidence we have, which is still pretty fucking poor, is that vegetarianism offers no health benefit.

Western vegetarians do a cluster of other known beneficial things compared to health-indifferent omnivores. When you study the health benefit of vegetarianism, you're actually studying the health benefit of (on average) exercising more, eating more grean leafy vegetables, eating vitamin supplements, eating more nuts, eating more fruits, drinking less sugary beverages, eating less candy, eating less table fat, drinking more wine, eating more legumes etc. There are so many confounding factors that you can't make heads or tails of it.

However, if you look in other areas of the world where people don't eat meat for religious reasons but eat an otherwise normal diet, there is no benefit or in some cases a detriment(B-12 deficient diets causes heart disease).
zen1951
not rated yet Aug 27, 2012
Maybe he has gone but he did not only leave his mark here he left it up there aswell best respects to him and family
DavidW
1 / 5 (7) Aug 27, 2012
B12 is in the dirt. If you wash your veggies then get some from an additive. Heads or tails is easy when we stop making fantastic excuses to harm needlessly.
antialias_physorg
4.9 / 5 (8) Aug 27, 2012
The blockage was from eating animals and animal products. Neil died because he choose to kill and harm animals needlessly (for the sole purpose of self-gratifaction).

People die. 100% of them. Studies show that vegetarians (or vegans) don't live longer - they just die of different things.

Humans are omnivores. No amount of ideology will change this biological fact. That we can (and probably should) reduce our intake of meat products is an arguable case. nevertheless: if people want to follow habits that may shorten their life willingly, then let them.

There's more to life than just "existing maximum possible number of years".
ricarguy
1 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2012
Mr. Armstrong is an example of a great man in many ways.

One thing that is scary is how many of his grand children's generation today will deny that any of the moon landings ever happened. It's unimaginable to the smart phone generation how such an amazing achievement could be made using slide rules and pencil and paper for personal calculations, without a single computer chip on the Apollo 11 capsule, and how many had to die first, blazing the trail there.
ricarguy
3.4 / 5 (5) Aug 27, 2012
@DavidW
I would rather eat meat than dirt, thank you. But feel free to indulge yourself any way you wish and please leave us to do the same.
wwqq
5 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2012
B12 is in the dirt. If you wash your veggies then get some from an additive.


Yeah, you could eat dirt or vitamin pills or yeast. You could also eat delicious salmon.

Heads or tails is easy when we stop making fantastic excuses to harm needlessly.


Just adopt a religious "meat is murder" dogma, and the confounding factors become easier to account for?

I think everyone saw through your fig leaf right away; but here you are actually admitting that you can't persuasively argue your point on its merits without resorting to phoney health claims.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2012
Mr. Armstrong is an example of a great man in many ways.
OK, he was a handsome guy - but was he any better than Collins, Aldrin or whatever else member of the Apollo crew? His first step at Moon was a consequence of many accidents. IMO the western people are more opened to personality cult, than they're willing to accept.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Aug 28, 2012
B12 is in the dirt. If you wash your veggies then get some from an additive.

That's one of the problem with vegetarians who don't bother to learn the basics: they don't know anything about physiology (especially those that go for raw/uncooked and vegan food)

That vitamins are IN a product does not automatically mean our body can get AT these vitamnis in the time the food resides in the intestine. Take carrots for example. Lots of vitamin A in a carrot. But the cell walls are so tough that you get hardly any out of it if you eat a raw carrot. You excrete most of it.

The converse happens with pills. Pills have a very high concentration of accessible vitamins - but our body isn't equipped to handle that much in such a short amount of time. So again most is immediately filtered via the kidneys, excreted and not used (this also goes for fruit juice).

If you really want to go vegetarian you have to be aware of these things and plan accordingly (kids should never go vegetarian).
xX_GT_Xx
not rated yet Aug 31, 2012
Please do not feed the trolls, even the vegan ones.