Source: NASA file via Reuters

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, into history and into our hearts. With this feat he quickly became an aviation icon and American hero.  He and Buzz Aldrin spent more than 21 hours on the moon in this first lunar walk. Fellow Apollo 11 crewmate, Michael Collins, orbited above in their command module, Columbia. Armstrong’s words, uttered as his foot first touched the desolate landscape, have become famous–“That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil Armstrong died August 25, 2012 due to complications following heart surgery. He was 82.

“Neil Armstrong was a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job,” his family said. “He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. … He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits.”

Armstrong had an intimidating resume. At 30, he was a test pilot flying the X-15 rocket plane for a new government agency called NASA. He served as a Naval Aviator in the Korean War, flying 78 missions and had an engineering degree from Purdue University. On March 16, 1966 Armstrong became the first American civilian to orbit the earth, commanding the two-man Gemini VIII mission with David R. Scott. During the fourth orbit, they successfully docked with another spacecraft–it was a first.   This maneuver would be critical for future Apollo projects which would need to get astronauts to and from the lunar surface.

A public memorial service to honor Armstrong took place September 13th at Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital. In addition to the family, the service brought together dignitaries, national leaders, as well as members of the NASA family of former and current astronauts. This event preceded another private service which took place on August 31 involving only family and close friends.

The gallant astronaut was buried at sea stated NASA. According to the Navy, the standard ceremony for burial at sea includes a three volley (rifle) salute and the playing of Taps.

The Smithsonian Institution has also honored Armstrong by placing the astronaut’s space suit, gloves and visor worn during his historic moon walk on temporary display.

To view the historic video of Armstrong’s first lunar walk follow this link:  http://www.space.com/17303-neil-armstrong-s-one-small-step-that-changed-the-world-video.html

 

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