Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the surface of the moon and whose statement “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” is forever etched in history , has died at the age of of 82.
According to the Wall Street Journal Armstrong's family issued a statement saying he died as a result of complications from cardiovascular procedures. The full statement reads as follows:
“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.
“Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.
“Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.
“He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.
“As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.
Neil Armstrong as a child
“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.
“For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. 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 is most famous for the Apollo 11 mission, when he was the first person to exit the capsule and set foot on the moon. As he climbed down the ladder he uttered the words "one small step". As he jumped from the bottom rung of the ladder onto the moon surface he went on to say "one giant leap for mankind." The Apollo 11 mission was his second journey into space, the first being the 1966 Gemini 8 mission, where he was the co-pilot. He was the backup command pilot for the 1966 Gemini 11 mission and the commander of the backup crew for the 1968 Apollo 8 mission.
File photo: Armstrong on the surface of the moon
The Apollo 11 mission launched on July 16, 1968. Four days after take off, it began orbiting the moon. The lunar module Eagle, carrying Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, separated from the Command Module and landed on the moon. The Associate Press reminds us that during the first few minutes Armstrong was on the moon, he called it a "tender moment" and placed a patch that commemorates NASA astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who died in action. The gesture was particularly poignant in light of the heated space race between the US and Soviet Union.
During an interview earlier this year, Armstrong told an Australian tv reporter the gesture "was special and memorable but it was only instantaneous because there was work to do."
Reaction to the passing of Armstrong have begun to flood in. One twitter user showed his respect for Armstrong by posting the Armstrong quote "I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don't intend to waste any of mine." Virginia Governor Tim Kain tweeted "We lost a true American hero today. Neil Armstrong inspired all of us to believe that anything is possible." Arianna Huffington tweets: "Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man's desire to understand. RIP Neil Armstrong."
The UT San Diego website has set up a page specifically for people to share their reaction to Armstrong's death.
Admiral Charles Bolden, NASA chief, issued a statement which said:
"On behalf of the entire NASA family, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Carol and the rest of Armstrong family on the passing of Neil Armstrong. 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.
"Besides being one of America's greatest explorers, Neil carried himself with a grace and humility that was an example to us all. When President Kennedy challenged the nation to send a human to the moon, Neil Armstrong accepted without reservation.
"As we enter this next era of space exploration, we do so standing on the shoulders of Neil Armstrong. We mourn the passing of a friend, fellow astronaut and true American hero."
You can watch the recent the Australian evotv interview with Armstrong here.
You can read a full bio of Armstrong at neilarmstrong.com.