Legendary American astronaut Neil Armstrong has died at age 82. Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Was the First Human to Walk on the Moon
On July 20, 1969, he stepped out of the Eagle lunar landing ship onto the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. The landing was televised and watched by half a billion people. As commander of the mission, he was also the first human to land a craft on the moon.
2. He Uttered One of the Most Iconic Phrases in History
Upon walking on the moon, he said “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” However, there is controversy over what he really said, because anyone who listens to it hears “That’s one small step for man” not “one small step for A man.” Man means the same thing as mankind. But we know what he meant.
3. He Had Heart Trouble
Armstrong had a heart attack in 1991, and NBC reports that Armstrong died from complications related to surgery he had three weeks ago. He had the bypass surgery after failing a stress test. He died at 2:24 p.m. Eastern Time today.
4. He Was a War Hero
Armstrong, who earned his pilot’s license as age 15 before he could drive, was a U.S. Naval aviator in the Korean War. While flying on a low bombing run over Korea, his F9F Panther was hit by anti-aircraft fire. His plane collided with a pole that ripped off part of his wing. He maintained control long enough to get over friendly territory, where he ejected from the plane and was later rescued.
5. He Was an Accomplished NASA Aviator Before He Went to Space
Actually, Armstrong joined NASA when it was still NACA — the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. He was a research pilot on the cutting edge of high-speed flight whose tests included the 4000-mph X-15. According to his NASA bio, “He has flown over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders.”
6. He Was from Ohio
Armstrong was born Aug. 5, 1930, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Today there’s an airport and a space museum in Wapakoneta, both named after Armstrong. Later in life he became a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati.
7. He Was an Eagle Scout
Armstrong was a Boy Scout who reached the pinnacle of that organization when he became an Eagle Scout. He greeted the Scouts from space when he was on his way to the moon.
8. He Recommends the Moon as a Travel Option
In a 60 Minutes interview with Ed Bradley in 2006, he said of the moon: “It’s an interesting place to be. I recommend it.” The soundbite was part of a longer quote in which he described the moon’s surface, telling Bradley: “It’s a brilliant surface in that sunlight. The horizon seems quite close to you because the curvature is so much more pronounced than here on earth.”
9. He Shied from the Spotlight
Armstrong eschewed fame after his historic feat. He rarely granted interviews, and he chose not to lend his likeness to toys or put his name on a restaurant or other establishment. He refused to give autographs, fearing that they would be resold later. (In 2005 a barber sold some of Armstrong’s hair for $3,000 to a collector who also had locks from Abraham Lincoln, Napoleon and Einstein, NBC reports.) Armstrong did do a TV ad for Chrysler. According to celebritynetworth.com, Armstrong died with a net worth of $3 million.
10. He Was One of the Most Honored Men in History
Check out the short list of his most esteemed medals and honors, from his NASA bio:
Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Space Medal of Honor; the Explorers Club Medal; the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy; the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; the Harmon International Aviation Trophy; the Royal Geographic Society’s Gold Medal; the Federation Aeronautique Internationale’s Gold Space Medal; the American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award; the Robert J. Collier Trophy; the AIAA Astronautics Award; the Octave Chanute Award; and the John J. Montgomery Award.