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First Man on Moon Neil Armstrong Dies at 82; Tributes Pour in for the Astronaut

Aug 26, 2012 07:20 AM EDT

Neil Armstrong, the first man to land on the moon, died in Cincinnati on Saturday following complications from a cardiovascular surgery. He was 82.

"We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures," Armstrong's family members said in a statement.

Armstrong became the first man to successfully land on the moon on July 20, 1969 as the commander of the Apollo 11 mission. The mission was launched from Kennedy Space Center on July 16, 1969, carrying Armstrong alongside fellow astronauts Edwin E. Aldrin and Michael Collins to gather samples of the lunar surface and return to Earth. "That is one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind," Armstrong made his famous statement after stepping on the moon at a place named as Sea of Tranquility.

Just 20 minutes after he landed on moon, Buzz Aldrin joined him and together they spent two hours collecting rock and soil samples. They unveiled a plaque with a message that read: "Here men from the planet earth first set foot on the moon July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind," fulfilling the hopes of millions of people.

Their successful mission symbolized the technical dominance of the Americans over its rival the Soviet Union in the space race during those days.

Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930 in Wapakoneta, Ohio. He was a United States Navy officer and had served in the Korean War. He became a test pilot before joining the U.S. space program in 1962. He was first involved in the Gemini program and later became part of the Apollo 11 mission.

After his return to Earth from the moon, Armstrong became deputy association administrator for aeronautics for the office of advanced research and technology and was holding the position until 1971, when he resigned. Later, he held several positions in many organizations.

Tributes to Armstrong have been pouring in from around the world.

"Neil Armstrong was a hero not just of his time, but of all time," President Barack Obama posted a message on twitter. "Thank you, Neil, for showing us the power of one small step," he said.

"I am very saddened to learn of the passing of Neil Armstrong today. Neil and I trained together as technical partners but were also good friends who will always be connected through our participation in the Apollo 11 mission. 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," fellow astronaut Aldrin said.

Armstrong is survived by his wife Carol Held Knight, two sons, a stepson, a stepdaughter and ten grandchildren.

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