Neil Armstrong died from complications

2012-08-25 23:42

Washington - Former US astronaut Neil Armstrong, who took a giant leap for mankind when he became the first person to walk on the moon, has died at the age of 82, his family said on Saturday.

The family said in a statement online that Armstrong died following complications from heart-bypass surgery he underwent earlier this month, just two days after his birthday on August 5.

"We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away," the family said in their statement. "Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend."

His family expressed hope that young people around the world would be inspired by Armstrong's feat to push boundaries and serve a cause greater than themselves.

"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," the family said.

As commander of the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon on 20 July 1969. As he stepped on the dusty surface, Armstrong said: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."

Quote controversy

Those words endure as one of the best known quotes in the English language.

A bit of controversy still surrounds his famous quote. The broadcast did not have the "a" in "one small step for a man..." He and Nasa insisted static had obscured the "a", but after repeated playbacks, he admitted he may have dropped the letter.

Repeated attempts have been made using modern acoustic equipment to search for the missing letter, with one Australian scientist claiming to have found it. Armstrong has expressed a preference, however, that written quotations include the "a" in parentheses.

The Apollo 11 astronauts' euphoric moonwalk provided Americans with a sense of achievement in the space race with Cold War foe the Soviet Union and at a time when Washington was engaged in a bloody war with the communists in Vietnam.

Neil Alden Armstrong was 38 at the time and even though he had fulfilled one of mankind's age-old quests that placed him at the pinnacle of human achievement, he did not revel in his accomplishment. He even seemed frustrated by the acclaim it brought.

"I guess we all like to be recognised not for one piece of fireworks but for the ledger of our daily work," Armstrong said in an interview on CBS's 60 Minutes programme in 2005.

He once was asked how he felt knowing his footprints would likely stay on the moon's surface for thousands of years. "I kind of hope that somebody goes up there one of these days and cleans them up," he said.

A very private man

James Hansen, author of First Man: The Life of Neil A Armstrong, told CBS: "All of the attention that ... the public put on stepping down that ladder onto the surface itself, Neil never could really understand why there was so much focus on that."

The Apollo 11 moon mission turned out to be Armstrong's last space flight. The next year he was appointed to a desk job, being named Nasa's deputy associate administrator for aeronautics in the office of advanced research and technology.

Armstrong's post-Nasa life was a very private one. He took no major role in ceremonies marking the 25th anniversary of the moon landing. "He's a recluse's recluse," said Dave Garrett, a former Nasa spokesperson.

"Howard Hughes had nothing on him," he said, speaking of the exceedingly private aviator.

Hansen said stories of Armstrong dreaming of space exploration as a boy were apocryphal, although he was long dedicated to flight. "His life was about flying. His life was about piloting," Hansen said.

He left the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) a year after Apollo 11 to become a professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

Declined offers to run for office

After his aeronautical career, Armstrong was approached by political groups but, unlike former astronauts John Glenn and Harrison Schmitt who became US senators, he declined all offers.

Armstrong made a rare public appearance several years ago when he testified to a congressional hearing against President Barack Obama administration's plans to buy rides from other countries and corporations to ferry US astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Armstrong also said that returning humans to the moon was not only desirable, but necessary for future exploration - even though Nasa says it is no longer a priority.

He lived in the Cincinnati area with his wife, Carol.

Michael Collins, a crew mate of Armstrong's on the Apollo 11 flight, said through Nasa's senior spokesperson, Bob Jacobs: "He was the best, and I will miss him terribly."

The space agency sent out a brief statement in the wake of the news, saying it "offers its condolences on today's passing of Neil Armstrong, former test pilot, astronaut, and the first man on the moon".

Armstrong is survived by his two sons, a stepson and stepdaughter, 10 grandchildren, a brother and a sister, Nasa said.

  • khoabane.simon - 2012-08-26 00:04

    Rest in peace brother Neil Armstrong, you taken the last step on planet earth. I hope your next step is in heaven!

      Rabbler.Rouser - 2012-08-26 00:13

      Indeed. Rest in peace. He will always have a place in history.

      preshen.govender.90 - 2012-08-26 10:42

      He inspired MJ to do the moon walk

  • neil.p.jonker - 2012-08-26 00:11

    Sad I was named after him

  • pagel.trivia - 2012-08-26 00:12

    Remarkable man and remarkably humble - especially considering what he has achieved. RIP. Here is a nice story - Not true, but still good :-). Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, is quoted as saying, "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky" during his first lunar walk in 1969 on the Apollo 11 mission. Years later, Mr. Armstrong says that now that Mr. Gorsky is dead, he can tell the real story. He says that when he was a child, he overheard his neighbor, a Mr. Gorsky, being told by his wife that when the kid next door walks on the moon...that's when Mr. Gorsky will get sex."

  • carl.lutzer.3 - 2012-08-26 00:14

    If only it was true that they walked on the moon....

      sally.lewitt - 2012-08-26 01:10

      Take your Meds..

      pagel.trivia - 2012-08-26 22:30

      @Carl: That is one expensive conspiracy. Prey - tell us about a few others (911, mars, etc). You are reading to much David Icke.

  • paul.claassen - 2012-08-26 00:42

    Good bye great GUY! To us you was so much more than a just an American mutcho man. You lit up our eyes as youngsters all over the world, irrespective of country, creed, race or gender. Just A SHININNG LIGHT FOR ALL persons on this great planet earth! Rest in peace - forever my hero!

  • paul.claassen - 2012-08-26 00:57

    Good bye great guy. You were an inspiration to our generation. You made us all feel like Americans for the first time. The seccond time I felt Amrican was during the 9/11 event. Although we do not always agree, people like you inspired us in small countries to reach for the stars. Some of us are still trying an by gosh we might just get it right someday!!! Thank you for your spirit of adventure and your vivid feedback! We love you forever... our good guy!

  • sally.lewitt - 2012-08-26 01:09

    RIP Neil Armstrong

  • Desilusionada - 2012-08-26 01:21

    The end of an era. RIP

  • NickvanderLeek - 2012-08-26 01:21

    no word from Buzz?

      lacrimose.wolf - 2012-08-26 01:41 - 2012-08-26 07:47

      Ok, here's " A Word". Rip Mr Armstrong. You were one of my greatest childhood heroes

  • devon.riley.52 - 2012-08-26 01:33

    Your name will live forever, you were and still are one of my childhood heroes who went where no man has gone before. RIP

  • johan.duplessis.7564 - 2012-08-26 01:48

    RIP MR Neil Armstrong. May you take the people in heaven to great places.

  • brent.goldwyer - 2012-08-26 01:54


  • turdy.mclaw - 2012-08-26 01:59

    RIP you legend :)

  • Mohlomphehi Thabo - 2012-08-26 04:20

    Rest In Peace Neil

  • nghamula.mdunwazi - 2012-08-26 05:51

    Man on the moon,neil armstrong died from complications @age82

  • Gerda Malherbe - 2012-08-26 06:01

    So sad when legends die. RIP, Neil Armstrong

  • robin.stobbs.9 - 2012-08-26 07:02

    You inspired the world - a legend in your own time. RIP great man. With humble respect I salute you, your fellow astronauts and cosmonauts who have reached for the stars and in doing so have showed the value of true courage.

  • dharmesh.dhaya - 2012-08-26 07:04

    Sad to hear the news. What a great man. Yes, next time I look at the moon, I will give him a wave.

  • robin.stobbs.9 - 2012-08-26 07:08

    One has to wonder who the flat-earth twat is who gives everyone a TD here.

  • Grant Henry - 2012-08-26 07:16

    R.I.P Niel.

  • flysouth - 2012-08-26 07:18

    I watched him walk on the moon in 1969 and I met Neil Armstrong in 1997 in the US - what a modest and unassuming gentleman, no airs and graces at all. Rest In Peace, Sir.

  • marcusvandermerwe - 2012-08-26 07:50

    Neil Armstrong now goes into the history books forever, a legend of modern times. Like Jim Lovell said: " Christopher Columbus, Charles Lindbergh and now... Neil Armstrong"

  • frank.collier.14 - 2012-08-26 08:11

    I can remember watching the moon at the time he landed. RIP, Captain Armstrong.

  • lovemore.mutawu - 2012-08-26 08:20

    Neil achieved a feat quite unimaginable during tht tme. And his footprints shall remain visible on the moon's surface for future human generations to witness! May indeed hs soul rest in peace.

  • Msika - 2012-08-27 08:15

    RIP Neil!! What a legend, what an inspiration you were...your legacy will live on for ever.

  • stefan.vanderwesthuizen.167 - 2012-08-27 13:36

    So the fraudulent fake monn lander has finally dies. His witness of the fake event has died with him.

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