In The News

First man on the moon Neil Armstrong passes away

First man on the moon Neil Armstrong passes away

THE first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, has passed away. He was 82.

It was on July 20, 1969, that Mr. Armstrong and fellow Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin landed on the surface of the moon. As millions of people across the world watched the live television broadcast of the landing (see below), Mr. Armstrong stepped from his Eagle lunar module and said the words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

His achievement brought him a level of fame which did not sit easily with the man who had been a US Navy fighter pilot during the Korean War before becoming a test pilot and then an astronaut.

He was, as his family put it, a “reluctant American hero”. After the Apollo 11 mission ended, Mr. Armstrong held a senior position at NASA before becoming Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati for many years.

Despite his worldwide fame, Mr. Armstrong increasingly preferred to follow a path away from public view. He rarely gave interviews (see below).

But his place in history, and the regard with which he was held, was never diminished by time. In November last year, Mr. Armstrong and three other former astronauts received the Congressional Gold Medal — the highest US civilian award.

He had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Nixon for his moon landing. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter presented him with the Congressional Space Medal of Honour. He had also received honours from many countries across the world.

President Obama led tributes to the former astronaut. He said: “When Neil Armstrong stepped on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.”

He added: “Neil Armstrong’s spirit of discovery lives on today in all men and women who have devoted their lives to exploring the unknown. That legacy will endure, sparked by a man who taught us the enormous power of one small step.”

NASA also paid tribute to their former commander. The organisation’s administrator, Charles Bolden, said: “As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own. We mourn the passing of a friend, fellow astronaut and true American hero.”

To see footage of the moment Neil Armstrong stepped on to the moon’s surface, click here.

To view an excerpt from an interview given by Neil Armstrong, click here.


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