Portrait of Neil Armstrong. Photo courtesty of NASA
Portrait of Neil Armstrong. Photo courtesty of NASA

Neil Armstrong dies, age 82

TRIBUTES are flowing worldwide for Neil Armstrong, one of the "greatest of American heroes", who has died at age 82.

Mr Armstrong died on Saturday from complications following heart surgery he underwent earlier this month.

Since the passing of the infamous astronaut, world leaders, space explorers and family members have remembered the reserved yet remarkable man who made history.

American President Barack Obama hailed Mr Armstrong as one of his country's greatest heroes.

"When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation," he said in a statement.

"They set out to show the world that the American spirit can see beyond what seems unimaginable - that with enough drive and ingenuity, anything is possible.

"And when Neil stepped foot on the surface of the moon for the first time, he delivered a moment of human achievement that will never be forgotten."

The family of Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the moon alongside Mr Armstrong, expressed their deepest condolences.

"He will be missed," they stated via Twitter.

Mr Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930 in Ohio, where he kick-started his career with NASA.

After switching between engineer, pilot and administrator, Mr Armstrong gained astronaut status in 1962 - seven years before he made the historic journey to the moon.

In a statement, Mr Armstrong's family said their loved one was a reluctant American hero who just believed he was doing his job.

"For those who may ask what they can do to honour Neil, we have a simple request," the statement said.

"Honour 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."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Mr Armstrong's death marked the end of an amazing era in human progress.

"The Apollo missions brought formidable achievements of science and knowledge that have helped change human history," she said.

"And with that new knowledge came a new wisdom: literally a new perspective on human life.

"I salute Neil Armstrong and the explorers who have followed him, and the worlds they continue to open for us."

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