Remembering Neil Armstrong’s Giant Leap
The first man to walk on the moon has died at age 82
During the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin planted an American flag on the moon’s surface. (NASA / Roger Ressmeyer / CORBIS)
On Saturday, American astronaut Neil Armstrong died at age 82. He was the first man to set foot on the moon.
Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969. He was the commander of Apollo 11, the first space mission to land astronauts on the lunar surface. After their famous moonwalk, Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin became icons in the history of science and space exploration.
After Armstrong’s death was announced over the weekend, many people who work in science and government spoke proudly of his achievements.
“Neil was among the greatest of American heroes,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “When Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten.”
“As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own,” said Charles F. Bolden Jr., administrator of the American space agency NASA.
Armstrong is still one of only 12 people to have ever stepped onto the moon.
WALKING ON THE MOON
Six hours after his spacecraft landed on the moon, Armstrong became the first human to step onto the lunar surface. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he said as he stepped down from the the lunar landing craft. Broadcast on television and radio around the world, Armstrong’s words marked the beginning of a new period of space exploration.
Fellow astronaut Aldrin joined him outside the spacecraft 20 minutes later. The two worked together to plant an American flag on the moon.
Their historic moonwalk lasted a little more than two hours. Although their time on the moon was short, it inspired a generation of young people to say, “When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut!”
Armstrong, a former military test pilot, had worked for NASA for many years. His skills as an engineer and experience as a space commander helped make the first moonwalk into a success.
The Apollo 11 mission was Armstrong’s last spaceflight. He retired from his work as an astronaut and became a college professor. Over the past few years, Armstrong had become a public supporter of a manned mission to Mars.