Neil Armstrong, First Man On The Moon, Dies At 82

A true pioneer passed away today.

Neil Armstrong, the first human being to walk on the surface of another world, has died at the age of 82:

(Reuters) – Former U.S. astronaut, Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, has died at the age of 82, U.S. media reported on Saturday.

Armstrong underwent a heart-bypass surgery earlier this month, just two days after his birthday on August 5, to relieve blocked coronary arteries.

As commander of the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. As he stepped on the moon’s dusty surface, Armstrong said: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Armstrong lived a rather quiet life after Apollo 11. He never flew in space again and, other than anniversary events for the mission itself, where he appeared with fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, wasn’t really much of a public presence. In fact, he didn’t really make the news again until 1986 when he was named the head of the commission appointed by President Reagan to investigate the Challenger disaster. In more recent years, he had joined fellow astronauts like Aldrin and Gene Cernan in speaking out against the changes in NASA strategy that the Obama Administration had announced.

I wasn’t old enough to really remember the Moon Landing, although my parents told me they did wake my eleven month old self up for the event, but by the time I was in grade school, Neil Armstrong was something of a living legend and his reticence for public fame was something that seemed to frustrate many people. Although he didn’t exactly accomplish the feat alone, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Armstrong had become a true American hero, perhaps the last real American hero. More than that, though, I’d submit that he was a hero for all of humanity. The plaque that Apollo 11 left on the Moon said in part, “We came in peace, for all mankind,” and despite the tensions that existed in the world at the time that was more than mere puffery. The entire world held its breath during that mission, and the Apollo 11 crew became world heroes. Even the Soviets recognized the accomplishment. I dare to say that, hundreds of years from now, when humanity has hopefully ventured out into the Solar System, his name will still be remembered because he did something that nobody before him had ever done and he did it in a quiet, humble, Midwestern way. A true loss today.

Armstrong’s family has issued a statement, which I think is worth quoting in full:

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati.
He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.

As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life.

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.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

NASA has posted a statement on Armstrong’s passing as well.

And of course, we cannot let this moment pass without reliving the moment:

And here’s a CBS News retrospective of the Apollo 11 mission:And here’s a retrospective of Walter Conkrite anchoring CBS’s coverage:

FILED UNDER: Obituaries, Science & Technology
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. PJ says:

    RIP.

  2. Oh, my gosh. I learned this from seeing this post. I remember the Apollo landings and moon walking like it was last night.

    We generally don’t remember how young the astronauts were. IIRC, Armstrong was considered an “old man” of the astronaut corps, and he was not even 40 when he moon walked.

    A true national hero, he never sought to profit or capitalize on his accomplishments or fame.

  3. @Donald Sensing:

    Indeed. Armstrong was 38 at the time of Apollo 11.

  4. Ernieyeball says:

    RIP Rocketman…

  5. James Joyner says:

    @Donald Sensing: @Doug Mataconis: Hardly surprising. The early astronauts were military aviators and 38 is pretty old for the service–the age of lieutenant colonels and commanders. The next pay grade, colonel/captain, typically comes in one’s early 40s and is really too old to still be flying. At that stage, a naval aviator is either a CAG (commander of an air group) or off pilot duty altogether and serving as an XO or skipper of a carrier.

  6. sam says:

    Ave atque vale, Neil Armstrong.

  7. Modulo Myself says:

    RIP.

    I was born after the Apollos. My memories are of the Space Shuttle. When you are an inquisitive kid, exploring and inhabiting outer space seemed so much the next step for humans.

    We haven’t stopped, but it’s such a different dream.

  8. Ron Beasley says:

    I was living in Munich at the time and I remember watching it on German Television. It was a time when it was a good time to be an American – somewhat muted by the debacle of Vietnam. I was in Munich for the entire Apollo program and never saw any of it on US TV although much of the coverage was from US networks with German subtitles.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    Still the best reporting ever on the moon walk.

    Holy Sh!t, Man Walks On F*cking Moon.

  10. Commonist says:

    Thanks, Obama.

  11. george says:

    RIP. I was a kid at the time, I remember going out a few days later and looking at the moon and thinking “someone walked there”. It was pretty amazing.

  12. EMRVentures says:

    Television, and the grand photos of the enormous Saturn V rockets, and a belief in technology, tend to smooth over the moon landings, to make them seem like they just happened, like the computers took care of it all. Like there was a seamlessness to it, and we had it all figured out.

    One of the most revelatory moments I’ve ever had in a museum was seeing the actual Apollo XI module. Good god almighty. It was small. It was mechanical, filled with toggle switches you might buy at Radio Shack. It looked primitive. The external edge fittings were looser than we would ever tolerate on our iPhone. Or our coffee makers, for that matters.

    Just to realize, these guys went to the moon in a Volkswagen, and got themselves back again, based on calculations done largely on slide rules. Apollo XI was a cowboy mission of the first order, and the stones that it took on the part of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, along with the rest of the people who worked on that mission, to pull if off is remarkable. Lots and lots of clever, cool, and well-trained folks did something remarkable on those days in July 1969.

  13. PJ says:

    While Neil Armstrong has left us, his footprints, and those of the other eleven who have walked on the moon, will remain for a very, very long time.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    We have done a lot of great things as a nation, but this is the single thing that will absolutely be in every encyclopedia reference to the United States of America in 100 years, in 1000 years, in 10,000 years. For the first time in the history of the human species we escaped earth and walked somewhere … else.

    If you want your all time “America, F*ck Yeah!” moment, there it is.

  15. anjin-san says:

    That was an unforgettable night. Brings back other memories, watching Mercury liftoffs – they would bring a TV into the classroom in first grade so we could watch.

    How much of a badass do you have to be to climb into a rocket and fly to the moon? The Right Stuff indeed…

  16. @EMRVentures:

    The Apollo Guidance Computer required 36KB ROM and 2KB RAM.

    The first computer I owned as a kid had more power than that. My Droid 3 makes the Apollo 11 Computer seem like child’s play.

    And, yet, as The Onion put it, they used it to get to the F*cking Moon.