No. 372

Neil Armstrong, first person to walk on moon, dies at 82

When Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, on July 20, 1969, he uttered a phrase that has been carved in stone and quoted across the planet: "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."

The grainy black-and-white television images of him taking his first lunar stroll were watched by an estimated 600 million people worldwide — and firmly established him as one of the great heroes of the 20th century.

Armstrong, who had heart surgery in early August, died Saturday in Cincinnati at 82, said NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs. The cause was complications from cardiovascular procedures, his family announced.

For the usually taciturn Armstrong, the poetic statement was a rare burst of eloquence, a sound bite for the ages that only increased his fame. He was never comfortable with celebrity he saw as an accident of fate, for stepping on the moon ahead of fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. The reticent, self-effacing Armstrong would shun the spotlight for much of the rest of his life.

In a rare public appearance, in 2000, Armstrong cast himself in another light: "I am, and ever will be, a white-sock, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer."

History would beg to disagree.

In a statement, President Obama said that when Armstrong stepped on the moon, "he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten."

Read more |  Los Angeles Times, 27.08.12

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