Neil Armstrong, First Man to Walk on Moon, Dies at 82

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Astronaut and American icon Neil Armstrong, the first person ever to set foot on the moon, has died at the age of 82.

Armstrong, who stepped onto the lunar surface on July 20, 1969 as commander of NASA's Apollo 11 mission, died Saturday (Aug. 25). The news was first reported by NBC News and confirmed in a statement by the Armstrong family. He had undergone a cardiac bypass operation on Aug. 7, two days after his 82nd birthday.

"It saddens us to report that the first astronaut to walk on the moon has passed away," NASA wrote in a statement.

The astronaut uttered one of the most famous phrases in human history upon making his extraterrestrial foray: "That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

Armstrong and Apollo 11 lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin spent 21 hours and 36 minutes on the moon and performed the first-ever moonwalk during their historic mission. Five more Apollo moon landings would follow before the program ended in 1972.

After returning to Earth, Armstrong taught aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati and later served as chairman of the Virginia-based Computing Technologies for Aviation, Inc., according to NASA. He and his wife, Carol, made their home in the Cincinnati area.

Neil Armstrong rarely returned to the spotlight, though he recently spoke at several congressional hearings on the future of NASA's human spaceflight program.

In November 2011, Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crewmates Aldrin and Michael Collins received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award Congress gives out. Former astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, also received the award during the ceremony.

"While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves," Armstrong's family said in the statement.

"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," the statement added.

This story was updated at 4:00 p.m. EDT.