Armstrong hailed as 'modest' hero

Sun, Aug 26, 2012, 01:00

Obituary:  Armstrong was a quiet, self-described “nerdy” engineer who became a global hero when as a steely nerved US pilot he made “one giant leap for mankind” with the first step on the Moon.

Armstrong died last night following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures, a statement from his family said. It did not say where he died.

Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20th, 1969, capping the most daring of the 20th century’s scientific expeditions.

His first words after setting foot on the surface are etched in history books and in the memories of those who heard them in a live broadcast.

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong said.

In those first few moments on the moon, during the climax of a heated space race with the then-Soviet Union, Armstrong stopped in what he called “a tender moment” and left a patch to commemorate Nasa astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who had died in action.

“It was special and memorable, but it was only instantaneous because there was work to do,” Armstrong told an Australian television interviewer this year.

Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the lunar surface, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs.

“The sights were simply magnificent, beyond any visual experience that I had ever been exposed to,” Armstrong once said.

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