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Neil Armstrong, first man to walk on the moon, is dead at 82


Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the moon, has died, according to the Associated Press. He was 82.

No details were immediately available about his death, though Armstrong had heart surgery earlier this month.

Armstrong's lunar stroll on July 20, 1969 -- watched by an estimated 600 million television viewers worldwide -- established him firmly as one of the great heroes of the 20th century.

PHOTOS: Neil Armstrong dead at 82

But Armstrong, a reticent, self-effacing man who shunned the spotlight whenever possible, was never comfortable with his public image as a courageous, historic man of action.

“I am, and ever will be, a white-sock, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer,” Armstrong told a gathering at the National Press Club in Washington a few years ago.

In 1966, Armstrong made his first space flight, with fellow astronaut David R. Scott. Their ship, Gemini 8, was docking with an unmanned Agena rocket when a malfunctioning thruster sent the interlocked space vehicles tumbling uncontrollably.

Unperturbed as usual, Armstrong disconnected the two vehicles, brought Gemini 8 back under control and made a safe emergency landing in the Pacific. NASA officials cited his “extraordinary piloting skill.”

PHOTOS: Apollo 11

Two years later, a lunar landing training vehicle he was piloting suffered control failure just 200 feet off the ground. Armstrong fired his ejection seat and parachuted to safety.

On Jan. 1, 1969, he was named commander of Apollo 11, the first spaceship to send men to the surface of the moon. His crewmates were fellow space veterans Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins.


Celebrity reactions to Neil Armstrong's death

Neil Armstrong's family: Honor his example of service

Neil Armstrong died of complications after heart surgery

Neil Armstrong remembered nationwide as a hero for mankind

Obama and Romney hail Neil Armstrong as an American hero

-- Times staff writers and Associated Press

Photo: Neil Armstrong inside the Apollo 11 lunar module after his historic walk on the surface of the moon. Credit: NASA

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