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Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012

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This weekend, the world lost a true pioneer and reluctant hero, Neil A. Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the Moon. At the age of 82, Armstrong passed away due to complications resulting from a heart procedure. He earned his flight certificate at age 15, before he could even drive, and went on to study aerospace engineering. By age 20, he was a U.S. Navy Aviator, flying missions during the Korean War, and shortly afterward, he became an experimental research test pilot. Selected for the U.S. astronaut program, he first orbited the Earth in 1965, commanding NASA's Gemini 8 mission. Armstrong was later chosen to not only command the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, but to be the first person out the hatch, placing the first human footprints on lunar soil. It was his last mission to space -- on returning to Earth, after months of goodwill tours and interviews, Armstrong returned to a private life in his home state of Ohio. Here is a farewell to Neil Armstrong, who spent 82 years on this planet, and a few precious, historic moments on another world. [38 photos]

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On March 11, 1966, astronaut Neil Armstrong, command pilot of the Gemini 8 prime crew, poses during a photo session outside the Kennedy Space Center Mission Control Center in Florida. Armstrong passed away on Saturday, August 25, 2012, at the age of 82. (NASA)
On March 11, 1966, astronaut Neil Armstrong, command pilot of the Gemini 8 prime crew, poses during a photo session outside the Kennedy Space Center Mission Control Center in Florida. Armstrong passed away on Saturday, August 25, 2012, at the age of 82. (NASA)
Dryden test pilot Neil Armstrong, next to the experimental rocket-powered X-15 aircraft #1 (56-6670) after a research flight. (NASA) #
Members of pilot consultant group for the U.S. Air Force's Dyna Space glider project try out a cockpit simulator at the Boeing Aerospace division in Seattle, on March 15, 1962. Seated in simulator is Major James W. Wood, and with him is NASA's Pilot Neil Armstrong. (AP Photo) #
From left, astronauts Frank Borman, Neil Armstrong, John Young, and Deke Slayton, during astronaut desert survival training near Reno, Nevada, in 1964. (NASA) #
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and David R. Scott arrive at Complex 19 for a simulated test in preparation for the flight of Gemini 8, on March 16, 1966. (AP Photo) #
Astronauts Neil Armstrong and David R. Scott sit with their spacecraft hatches open while awaiting the arrival of the recovery ship, the USS Leonard F. Mason after the successful completion of their Gemini 8 mission, on March 16, 1966. They are assisted by USAF Pararescuemen Eldrige M. Neal, Larry D. Huyett, and Glenn M. Moore. The overhead view shows the Gemini 8 spacecraft with the yellow flotation collar attached to stabilize the spacecraft in choppy seas. The green marker dye is highly visible from the air and is used as a locating aid. (NASA) #
Astronauts David Scott and Neil Armstrong walk down a corridor of Tripler General Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, for a night's rest before continuing their journey from Okinawa to Cape Kennedy to report on the emergency that brought an abrupt end to their space flight in Gemini 8, on March 18, 1966. (AP Photo) #
Neil Armstrong, shown training with NASA Langley Research Centers Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) Simulator, in May of 1969. (NASA) #
Astronaut Neil Armstrong, Apollo 11 mission commander, floats safely to the ground after the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) he was piloting exploded only seconds before while he was rehearsing a lunar landing at Ellington Air Force Base, on May 6, 1968. The photo is a blowup of 16mm documentary motion picture recorded during the mishap. (NASA) #
A reproduction of a portion of the lunar surface, constructed on the concrete pad where the Lunar Excursion Module Simulator (LEMS) was tested at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, on June 20, 1969. The LEMS was a manned rocket-powered vehicle used to familiarize the Apollo astronauts with the handling characteristics of a lunar-landing type vehicle. (NASA) #
Neil Armstrong during an Earth-bound rehearsal for his upcoming walk on the Moon, on April 29, 1969. (NASA) #
An American flag flies in the foreground as the massive Saturn V rocket lifts off, carrying Apollo 11, the first Lunar landing mission. The vehicle lifted off with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr., at 9:32 a.m., July 16, 1969, from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. (NASA) #
A view of the Earth, showing clouds over water, photographed from the Apollo 11 spacecraft following translunar injection, on 16 July 1969. (NASA) #
Apollo 11 Spacecraft interior with astronaut Neil Armstrong looking at the camera, inside the Command and Service Module. Image taken during translunar phase of the mission. (NASA) #
Mrs. Jan Armstrong registers pleasure over a picture of her husband, Apollo 11 commander, Neil Armstrong, taken during a telecast from the spacecraft on the way to the moon, and beamed back to earth, on July 18, 1969. In the rear seat is their son, Mark, 6. (AP Photo) #
A view from the Apollo 11 spacecraft, showing Earth rising above the moon's horizon in July of 1969. (NASA) #
Apollo 11 astronauts capture a view of the far side of the moon in July of 1969. (NASA) #
Touchdown -- Astronauts Neil Armstrong (left), and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., stand by the Lunar Module ladder in this black and white reproduction taken from a telecast by the Apollo 11 lunar surface television camera during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity, on July 20, 1969. (NASA) #
An estimated 10,000 people gather to watch giant television screens in New York's Central Park and cheer as astronaut Neil Armstrong takes man's first step on the moon on July 20, 1969. (AP Photo) #
On the moon, Neil Armstrong's shadow appears in this photo of the landing site, taken from a distance, on July 20, 1969. (NASA) #
Neil Armstrong works at the Lunar Module, on July 20, 1969. (NASA) #
Neil Armstrong, photographer, appears reflected in the visor of Buzz Aldrin, near the leg of the Lunar Module during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA), on July 20, 1969. (NASA) #
The flag of the United States, deployed on the surface of the moon, viewed from inside the Lunar Module, on July 20, 1969. The footprints of astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin stand out very clearly. (NASA) #
The face of a man who has just walked on the moon -- astronaut Neil Armstrong, inside the Lunar Module, still on the lunar surface, shortly after his historic moon walk, on July 20, 1969. Astronauts Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, had just completed their extra-vehicular activity (EVA) when this picture was made. (AP Photo/NASA) #
In 2012, NASA's orbiting Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera captured this image of the Apollo 11 landing site from just 24 km (15 miles) above the surface. You can see the remnants of the astronauts' steps as dark regions around the Lunar Module and in dark tracks that lead to the scientific experiments the astronauts set up on the surface. (NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University) #
The Apollo 11 crew await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet, prime recovery ship for the historic lunar landing mission. The fourth man in the life raft is a United States Navy underwater demolition team swimmer. All four men are wearing biological isolation garments. The Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin aboard splashed down at 11:49 a.m., July 24, 1969, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii and only 12 nautical miles from the USS Hornet. (NASA) #
President Richard Nixon meets with the Apollo 11 astronauts in the isolation unit aboard the USS Hornet after splashdown and recovery, on July 24, 1969. The astronauts, left to right, are: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin. (AP Photo) #
Astronaut Neil Armstrong blows a kiss to his sons, Eric, 12, and Mark, 6, who were on hand to welcome home their famous dad when the astronauts arrived at Ellington Air Force Base, in Houston, Texas, on July 27, 1969. (AP Photo) #
The Apollo 11 crewmen, still under a 21-day quarantine, are greeted by their wives, on July 27, 1969, at Ellington Air Force Base. (NASA) #
Neil Armstrong strums a ukelele inside the Mobile Quarantine Facility, soon after the Apollo 11 crew arrived at Ellington Air Force Base, on July 27, 1969. (NASA) #
Hands of spectators reach out to clasp those of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong as he left the lunar receiving laboratory, Manned Spacecraft Center, in Houston, Texas, on August 11, 1969 after the quarantine period for the moon explorers ended. (AP Photo) #
New Yorkers line 42nd Street to cheer Apollo 11 astronauts, on August 13, 1969. In the lead car from left are: Edwin Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong, who return the greeting with waves. (AP Photo/STF) #
Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, waves to the crowd during a ticker tape parade up lower Broadway in New York, on August 13, 1969. (AP Photo/ETA) #
The Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, Jr., and Michael Collins, wearing sombreros and ponchos, are swarmed by thousands in Mexico City as their motorcade is slowed by the enthusiastic crowd, on September 23, 1969. The GIANTSTEP-APOLLO 11 Presidential Goodwill Tour emphasized the willingness of the United States to share its space knowledge. The tour carried the Apollo 11 astronauts and their wives to 24 countries and 27 cities in 45 days. (NASA) #
This picture taken on July 10, 1979 in Paris, France, shows former astronaut Neil Armstrong, during the recording of a television show. (Pierre Guillaud/AFP/Getty Images) #
Neil Armstrong, an Eagle Scout himself, makes an appearance at a Boy Scout Jamboree in Japan, on July 5, 1974. (AP Photo) #
Neil Armstrong receives a standing ovation as he prepares to address an audience at the 25th Lester D. Gardner Lecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on May 3, 1994, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Armstrong, currently the chairman of an electronics firm, spoke on the engineering aspects of a lunar landing. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) #
Former astronaut Neil Armstrong speaks near a statue of himself at the dedication ceremony of the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, on Saturday, October 27, 2007. Armstrong passed away on August 25, 2012. Armstrong's family released a statement on his death, saying in part: "For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink." (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) #

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