Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969 has passed away at the age of 82.
Armstrong’s death was announced in a statement released by NBC on behalf of Tom Stafford, a former astronaut who Armstrong’s wife called to inform of his passing on Saturday. The family said, “Next time you walk outside on clear night and see moon smiling down at you, think of Neil and give him a wink.”
While little information regarding the exact cause and location has been revealed, reports have indicated that Armstrong died as the result of complications from a cardiovascular procedure. The procedure in question was the heart-bypass surgery that Armstrong underwent due to blocked coronary arteries.
After setting foot on the moon with Edwin Aldrin, also known as Buzz, Neil Armstrong left another indelible mark in history when he famously quipped, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Armstrong was a quiet man who kept to himself and shied away from the bright lights of the press and mainstream media, but he wasn’t a stranger to expressing his discontent with President Obama’s stance on canceling future manned moon missions. Armstrong testified in front of Congress in 2010 to lobby for the protection of the Constellation program, which would have sent a new ship called Orion and a crew to the moon by 2020.
Despite a focus on Mars, which has become the new media darling of NASA’s space program after the successful landing Curiosity, Armstrong argued that trips between Earth and the moon would be an ideal testing ground for refining the transmission delays between planets. It took over 14 minutes for information from mission control to reach Curiosity. Obama eventually cancelled the Constellation program on the basis of having already spent $9 billion and for being, “behind schedule, and lacking in innovation.”
While NASA’s focus has been shifted to a new planet altogether, Armstrong has left behind a legacy that has inspired future generations to set foot on other unknown planets with the hope that one day humans may colonize a planet other than Earth.