Neil Armstrong, a self-described “nerdy” engineer who became a global hero when as a steely nerved U.S. pilot he made “one giant leap for mankind” with the first step on the moon. The modest man who entranced and awed people on Earth has died. He was 82.
Mr. Armstrong died on Saturday following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures, a statement from his family said. It didn’t say where he died.
He commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, capping the most daring of the 20th century’s scientific expeditions. His first words after setting foot on the surface are etched in history books and in the memories of those who heard them in a live broadcast.
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Mr. Armstrong said.
In those first few moments on the moon, during the climax of a heated space race with the then Soviet Union, he stopped in what he called “a tender moment” and left a patch to commemorate NASA astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who had died in action.
“It was special and memorable, but it was only instantaneous because there was work to do,” Mr. Armstrong told an Australian television interviewer this year.
Mr. Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the lunar surface, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs.
“The sights were simply magnificent, beyond any visual experience that I had ever been exposed to,” Mr. Armstrong once said.
The moonwalk marked America’s victory in the Cold War space race that began on Oct. 4, 1957, with the launch of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1, a satellite that sent shock waves around the world.