Added by Erik West on August 27, 2012
Neil Armstrong died on Saturday, aged 82, as a result of complications after heart surgery, earlier this month, to relieve blocked coronary arteries.
Armstrong’s family in a statement released on Saturday said he was a “reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job”.
The statement continued, “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.”
President Obama, in a statement issued by the White House, said “Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Neil Armstrong”
“Neil was among the greatest of American heroes – not just of his time, but of all time. When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation. They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable — that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible. And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.
“Today, Neil’s spirit of discovery lives on in all the men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown – including those who are ensuring that we reach higher and go further in space,” the president continued. “That legacy will endure – sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step.”
Buzz Aldrin, Armstrong’s colleague on the Apollo 11 mission, tweeted “I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning Neil’s passing – a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew.”
Armstrong’s first spaceflight was in 1966 when he was command pilot of the Gemini 8 mission in 1966; He performed the first manned docking of two spacecraft with pilot David Scott.
Armstrong’s second and last spaceflight was as mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing in July 1969. On this mission, Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface and spent 2 1/2 hours exploring and collecting samples.
Armstrong was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon along with Collins and Aldrin, he was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009.
Michael Collins, Command Mission Pilot on the Apollo 11 mission is aged 81 and is retired; Buzz Aldrin (Edwin E. Aldrinm, Jr) aged 82 is also retired.