Armstrong in 1969
Neil Alden Armstrong (August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012) was the first person to walk on the Moon, as well as an American astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor and United States Naval Aviator. Before becoming an astronaut, Armstrong was a United States Navy officer and served in the Korean War. After the war, he served as a test pilot at theNational Advisory Committee for Aeronautics High-Speed Flight Station, now known as the Dryden Flight Research Center, where he logged over 900 flights. He graduated from Purdue University and completed graduate studies at the University of Southern California.
A participant in the U.S. Air Force's Man In Space Soonest and X-20 Dyna-Soar human spaceflight programs, Armstrong joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 1962. His first spaceflight was the NASA Gemini 8 mission in 1966, for which he was the command pilot, becoming one of the first U.S. civilians in space. On this mission, he performed the first manned docking of twospacecraft with pilot David Scott.
Armstrong's second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969. On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2½ hours exploring, while Michael Collinsremained in orbit in the Command Module. Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon along with Collins and Aldrin, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and theCongressional Gold Medal in 2009.
On August 25, 2012, Armstrong died in Cincinnati, Ohio, at the age of 82 due to complications from blocked coronary arteries.
|Michael Collins, President George W. Bush, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin during celebrations of the 35th anniversary of the Apollo 11 flight, July 21, 2004|
Illness and death
Armstrong underwent surgery on August 7, 2012, to relieve blocked coronary arteries. He died on August 25, in Cincinnati, Ohio, following complications resulting from these cardiovascular procedures.
His family released a statement saying "[he was a] reluctant American hero [and had] served his nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut... 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."
Armstrong's colleague on the Apollo 11 mission, Buzz Aldrin, commented that he was "very saddened to learn of the passing. I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew." Apollo 11 command module pilot Michael Collins said simply, "He was the best, and I will miss him terribly." NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said that Armstrong will be "remembered for taking humankind's first small step on a world beyond our own".
Armstrong's family statement paid the tribute "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.