Neil A Armstrong, first man on the moon, died on Saturday. He was 82. He died of a coronary complication, his family said.
A 38-year-old man of few words created history on July 20, 1969 with just the right words: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Armstrong was joined 19 minute later on the moon by co-pilot Colonel Edwin E “Buzz” Aldrin, while Lt Col Michael Collins, third member of the Apollo mission, orbited above.
“I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew,” Aldrin said in a statement."I will miss my friend Neil as I know our fellow citizens and people around the world will miss this foremost aviation and space pioneer," Collins said in a statement released by Nasa.
Aldrin said he was hoping for the three of them to get together for the mission’s 50th anniversary in 2019. “Neil will most certainly be there with us in spirit.” Armstrong was more than just an American hero. He became a household name all over the world, with the story of Apollo 11 told, shown and shared far and wide.
Yuri Gagarin, of now defunct Soviet Union, was the first to go into space, on April 12, 1961. It took the world another 9 years to send a man on the moon.
And from Armstrong’s historic “small step” in 1969, it took 15 years for India to claim its place in space, with Air Force pilot Rakesh Sharma going up in April 3, 1984. Armstrong was the first. Though he fought as a navy pilot in the Korean War in the 1050s, he had become a civilian test pilot by the time he signed up for a Nasa programme for astronauts.