Neil Armstrong, the brave Apollo 11 astronaut who was the first to ever set foot on the moon, has passed away at age 82. According to his family, Neil passed away due to complications from a heart surgery that was performed a few weeks ago. Continue reading for a video, more Apollo 11 pictures, and additional information.

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fter the war, he became a test pilot and flew the hottest aircraft around, including the sleek X-15 rocket plane. He took the powerful craft to 207,000 feet – almost 38 miles – and the edge of space. He was in the first group of civilian astronauts, and made his initial flight in 1966, aboard Gemini eight.

The mission almost ended in disaster when a thruster on his craft stuck open, sending the ship whirling through space. With his trademark coolness, Armstrong used a back-up system, stopped the one-revolution-per-second spin and made an emergency landing in the Pacific. The preparation for the moon landing included learning how to fly the ungainly lunar module, which would descend vertically to the moon’s surface. Armstrong had another brush with death when the training vehicle rolled to its side, and he was forced to eject just two hundred feet from the ground.

And then, finally, after years of training, the moment arrived: On July 16, 1969, a giant Saturn V rocket lumbered off the pad at the Kennedy Space Center, carrying the thirty-eight-year-old Armstrong and crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Mike Collins. Armstrong later said that the landing itself was the high point of the mission for him. He coaxed the lunar module past craters and boulders as Aldrin called out speed and altitude.

Apollo 11 Pictures

After almost a day there, the astronauts lifted off, rejoined Collins in the command module and began the long journey home. Despite the initial fanfare, after the historic flight of Apollo 11 Armstrong remained a humble and intensely private person. He left NASA and taught engineering at the University of Cincinnati and later served on the boards of several aerospace firms. One of his rare public appearances was at a gathering with Aldrin and other Apollo astronauts to mark the 30th anniversary of their moon landing.

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