Saturday Aug. 25, pioneer astronaut Neil Alden Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died at the age of 82. According to a statement from family members, Armstrong suffered complications following coronary bypass surgery earlier this month. He died at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio at 2:45 p.m.
Hours later, President Barack Obama hailed Armstrong in a statement as “among the greatest of American heroes – not just of his time, but of all time.”
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said “as long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them.”
Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 lunar module that landed on the moon July 20, 1969 . While the world watched with bated breath, Armstrong announced, “I’m going to step off the LEM now.” The world will likely never forget his next words:
“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong said as he made the first footprint on another heavenly body.
Armstrong later insisted that he had said “a” before man, but admitted he couldn’t hear it in the version that was broadcast to the entire world.
In 2006, Australian computer programmer Peter Shann Ford reexamined the Apollo 11 recording using modern software analysis. The Houston Chronicle reported Ford claims Armstrong spoke “One small step for a man” with the “a” lasting a total of 35 milliseconds — too short to be clearly audible.
Armstrong was born on a farm in Wapakoneta, Ohio on August 5, 1930 to Stephen and Viola Armstrong. He had an early interest in aerospace, starting flying lessons at the age of 15 and earning his pilot’s license on his 16th birthday. He received a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1955 and later a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970. He also received honorary doctorates from a number of universities, including Purdue and USC.
From 1949 to 1952, Armstrong served as a naval aviator, flying 78 combat missions during the Korean War. Because of his service to his country, Armstrong had to defer his educational goals. In 1962, Armstrong was transferred to astronaut status under the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics — the predecessor of today’s NASA — serving as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission in 1966. Most famously, Armstrong was chosen to command the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission in 1969.
From 1970 to 1971, Armstrong served as deputy associate administrator for aeronautics at NASA. In 1971, Armstrong retired from NASA and went on to teach aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati until his resignation in 1979.
In 1979, Armstrong became a spokesman for Chrysler, the first company to convince him to do corporate endorsements. In addition to spokesman duties for U.S. companies like General Time Corporation and the Bankers Association of America, Armstrong served on the board of directors of several companies. These have included Marathon Oil, Learjet, Cinergy (Cincinnati Gas & Electric Company), Taft Broadcasting, United Airlines, Eaton Corporation, AIL Systems, and Thiokol. He also served as chairman of the board of EDO Corporation, retiring in 2002.
Armstrong is survived by his second wife Carol Held Knight, his sons Eric and Mark Armstrong, a stepson, stepdaughter and ten grandchildren.