Aug. 25, 2012 — Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon and spaceflight legend, has died at the age of 82. According to a family statement, Armstrong suffered complications following "cardiovascular procedures." He underwent a heart by-pass surgery earlier this month two days after his birthday on Aug. 5.
The statement said that Armstrong was 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."
On July 20, 1969, Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon, marking the historic event with his famous speech: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." He was the first of only 12 Apollo astronauts to achieve this feat. Only eight moonwalkers are alive today.
Armstrong was the commander of the mission and was joined on the dusty lunar surface 20 minutes later by lunar module pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained in orbit around the moon.
Apollo 11 was Armstrong's final mission into space. A year later, he left NASA, becoming a professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He lived in the Cincinnati area with his wife Carol.
Although a private man, the former astronaut has been a vocal critic about NASA and its future, advocating a return to the moon and eventual manned missions to Mars, an endeavor he said was a "worthy challenge" for mankind. Armstrong also unveiled the new Discovery Channel Telescope at Lowell Observatory, near Flagstaff, Arizona, in July. This public appearance, promoting science and technology, was one of his last.
Buzz Aldrin has joined the world in remembrance of his Apollo 11 crewmate, remarking on their friendship and a "true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew."
"Whenever I look at the moon it reminds me of the moment over four decades ago when I realized that even though we were farther away from earth than two humans had ever been, we were not alone," said Aldrin.