American hero Neil Armstrong dies

The man who took a 'giant leap for mankind' was 82

Astronaut and Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong

Astronaut and Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong

CINCINNATI (AP) - Neil Armstrong was a quiet, self-described nerdy engineer who became a global hero when, as a steely-nerved pilot, he made "one giant leap for mankind" with a small step on to the moon. The modest man who had people on Earth entranced and awed from almost a quarter million miles away has died. He was 82.

Armstrong died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures, his family said in a statement Saturday. It didn't say where he died.

Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969, capping the most daring of the 20th century's scientific expeditions. His first words after setting foot on the surface are etched in history books and the memories of those who heard them in a live broadcast.

"That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind," Armstrong said.

In those first few moments on the moon, during the climax of heated space race with the then-Soviet Union, Armstrong stopped in what he called "a tender moment" and left a patch commemorate NASA astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who had died in action.

"It was special and memorable but it was only instantaneous because there was work to do," Armstrong told an Australian television interviewer this year.

Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the lunar surface, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs.

"The sights were simply magnificent, beyond any visual experience that I had ever been exposed to," Armstrong once said.