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First man on moon Neil Armstrong passes away

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Former United States astronaut, and global icon Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon, passed away at the age of 82, on Saturday.

Armstrong underwent a heart-bypass surgery earlier this month, just two days after his birthday on 5th August, to relieve blocked coronary arteries.

As commander of the Apollo 11 mission, Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. As he stepped on the moon's dusty surface, Armstrong said: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."

The Apollo 11 moon mission turned out to be Armstrong's last space flight. The following year he was appointed to a desk job, being named NASA's deputy associate administrator for aeronautics in the office of advanced research and technology.

He left NASA a year later to become a professor of engineering at the University of Cincinnati. The former astronaut lived in the Cincinnati area with his wife, Carol.

Armstrong was born 5th August, 1930, on a farm near Wapakoneta in western Ohio. He took his first airplane ride at age 6 and developed a fascination with aviation that prompted him to build model airplanes and conduct experiments in a homemade wind tunnel.

As a boy, he worked at a pharmacy and took flying lessons. He was licensed to fly at 16, before he got his driver's license.

Armstrong enrolled in Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering but was called to duty with the U.S. Navy in 1949 and flew 78 combat missions in Korea.

After the war, Armstrong finished his degree from Purdue and later earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California. He became a test pilot with what evolved into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, flying more than 200 kinds of aircraft from gliders to jets.

Armstrong was accepted into NASA's second astronaut class in 1962 - the first, including Glenn, was chosen in 1959 - and commanded the Gemini 8 mission in 1966. After the first space docking, he brought the capsule back in an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean when a wildly firing thruster kicked it out of orbit.

Armstrong was backup commander for the historic Apollo 8 mission at Christmas time in 1968. In that flight, Commander Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell and Bill Anders circled the moon 10 times, and paving the way for the lunar landing seven months later.

Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft, alongwith fellow astronauts Michael Collins, and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr that landed on the moon July 20, 1969, capping the most daring of the 20th century's scientific expeditions.

An estimated 600 million people - a fifth of the world's population - watched and listened to the landing, the largest audience for any single event in history.


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