US astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, has died aged 82. A statement from his family says he died from complications from heart surgery he had earlier this month.
On July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the moon, the moment and the man himself became immortalised was he famously described the event as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.
It certainly was one giant leap for mankind, and the man who undertook this small step was today hailed by President Obama as “among the greatest of American heroes”.
Armstrong encapsulated a great human spirit that he would make his short time on the planet count, he once said, “I believe that every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine” . Armstrong was determined to meet President Kennedy’s challenge for an American to walk on the moon, whilst he honourably remained, in the eyes of many of his greatest admirers a ‘reluctant hero”.
Apollo 11 was Armstrong’s last space mission. In 1971, he left the US space agency Nasa to teach aerospace engineering.
Born in 1930 and raised in Ohio, Armstrong took his first flight aged six with his father and formed a lifelong passion for flying.
He flew Navy fighter jets during the Korean War in the 1950s, and joined the US space programme in 1962.
Correspondents say Armstrong remained modest and never allowed himself to be caught up in the glamour of space exploration.
“I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer,” he said in February 2000, in a rare public appearance.
Since his family announced his death, the internet has become awash with tributes, with celebrities, politicians and organisations praising the inspirational figure and seeing condolences to the Armstrong family, the US Navy vowed to “have the watch” for their “Shipmate Neil”.
But perhaps the greatest way to honour this true global hero is the in the way that the Armstrong family have so poetically asked :
“Next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil, and give him a wink.”