Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died Saturday, weeks after heart surgery and days after his 82nd birthday.
His family reported the death at 2:45 p.m. ET. A statement said he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.
Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, and he radioed back to Earth the historic news: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."
He was also the pilot in a previous mission space mission, Gemini 8, where his flying skills and cool head probably saved the mission:
After the Agena began execution of its stored command program, which instructed the Agena to turn the combined spacecraft 90° to the right, Scott noticed that they were in a roll. Armstrong used the Gemini's Orbit Attitude and Maneuvering System (OAMS) to stop the roll, but the moment he stopped using the thrusters, it started again. They immediately turned off the Agena and this seemed to stop the problem for a few minutes. Then suddenly it started again.A statement from his family read, in part:
Scott noticed that the Gemini attitude fuel had dropped to 30% indicating that it was a problem on their own spacecraft. They would have to undock. After transferring control of the Agena back to the ground they undocked and with a long burst of translation thrusters moved away from the Agena.
It was at that point that the Gemini spacecraft began to roll even faster, and approached one revolution per second. The astronauts were now in danger of impaired vision and loss of consciousness due to the violent motion. At this point Armstrong shut down the OAMS and used the Re-entry Control System reaction control system (RCS) to stop the spin. After steadying the spacecraft, they tested each OAMS thruster in turn and found that Number 8 had stuck on. Mission rules dictated that the flight be terminated once the RCS had been fired for any reason, so Gemini VIII prepared for an emergency landing.
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.The loss of the manned space programs is one of awful effects of the budget being squeezed to death by the growth of entitlements.
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."