"Looking back, we were really very privileged to live in that thin slice of history where we changed how man looks at himself and what he might become and where he might go,"
Neil Armstrong, was born in Ohio, on August 5, 1930. He was interested in flying even as a young boy, earning his pilot's license at age 16. Armstrong studied aeronautical engineering and earned degrees from Purdue University and University of Southern California. He served in the Navy, and flew 78 combat missions during the Korean War.
Armstrong took two trips into space. He made his first journey in 1966 as commander of the Gemini 8 mission, which nearly ended in disaster after a thruster rocket malfunctioned and caused it to spin wildly out of control.
During his next space trip in July 1969, Armstrong and fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins made a 250,000-mile journey to the moon, which took them four days to reach. About six and a half hours after landing, Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, on July 20, 1969. Then he expressed the now-famous phrase: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."
Armstrong was on the moon's surface for two hours and 32 minutes. He and Aldrin, who followed him, planted an American flag, collected moon rocks and started scientific experiments before returning to the main spacecraft.
All three returned home to a hero's welcome, and none ever returned to space.
Afterwards, Armstrong worked for NASA, coordinating and managing the administration's research and technology work.
In 1971, he resigned from NASA and taught engineering at the University of Cincinnati for nearly a decade.
Armstrong largely avoided the public spotlight and chose to lead a quiet, private life with his wife and children.
"Neil was among the greatest of American heroes -- not just of his time, but of all time," said President Barack Obama. "When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation. They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable -- that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible."
Neil Armstrong died yesterday. He was 82. A statement from his family, announcing his death, ended with a request: “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”.
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