Former NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, famous for being the first human to set foot on the Moon, died on Saturday, August 25, at the age of 82. According to reports, complications that arose following a coronary bypass surgery, which he undertook earlier this month, were the most likely cause.
He underwent the procedure on August 7, just two days after his 82nd birthday. His passing away was confirmed by his family members just a few hours later. Top NASA officials, politicians and the general public reacted immediately, taking to social media channels to express their grief.
Armstrong became a household name on July 20, 1969, when millions of people around the world tuned in to see the first person ever to walk on the Moon. His first words upon reaching the lunar surface, “That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” instantly became history.
He and fellow NASA colleague, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, explored the lunar surface as part of the Apollo 11 mission, during a 2-hour, 36-minute extravehicular activity (EVA). A third astronaut, Michael Collins, supervised the two from aboard the Command Module in orbit.
Soon after completing the first moonwalk, Armstrong withdrew from active duty, and took on a position at the University of Cincinnati, where he became a professor of aerospace engineering. He was the chairman of computing technologies for Aviation, Inc., in Virginia, between 1982 and 1992.
Following Apollo 11, Armstrong received
a large number of distinctions, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the Congressional Space Medal of Honor; the Explorers Club Medal; the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
Last year, all Apollo 11 astronauts received the highest award Congress can bestow on civilians, the Congressional gold medal. “Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job,” his family said in the statement
“On behalf of the entire NASA family, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Carol and the rest of the Armstrong family on the passing of Neil Armstrong,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement
“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,” he went on to say.
“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,” his family added.