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Neil Armstrong died of complications after heart surgery

August 25, 2012 |  1:14 pm


Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures, a statement Saturday from his family said. 

The Associated Press report did not say where he died. Armstrong had heart surgery earlier this month, but few details were made public at the time. Armstrong was a reticent, self-effacing man who shunned the spotlight whenever possible

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

In 1966, Armstrong made his first spaceflight, 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.”

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.

PHOTOS: Apollo 11

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.

On July 20, at 1:04:40 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, the Apollo 11 spacecraft came to rest gently near the moon's dry Sea of Tranquility.

“The Eagle has landed,” Armstrong radioed back to earth.

At New York's Yankee Stadium, 16,000 fans stood up and cheered.

Six hours and 52 minutes later, as an onboard television camera sent grainy but stunning images back for the world to see, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on lunar soil.


Celebrity reactions to Neil Armstrong's death

Neil Armstrong's family: Honor his example of service

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

Neil Armstrong remembered nationwide as a hero for mankind

Obama and Romney hail Neil Armstrong as an American hero

-- Times staff writers and the Associated Press

Photo: Neil Armstrong. Credit: NASA.