U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong is seen in this NASA portrait taken in July 1969. Armstrong, the mission commander of the Apollo 11 moon landing mission, was the first person to set foot on the moon. His family announced he died Saturday, August 25, 2012 at the age of 82.
Born in Ohio in 1930, Armstrong's fascination with airplanes began with his first flight at age six, and that fascination never abandoned him.
In 1952, Armstrong returned to Purdue University and graduated with a bachelors degree in aeronautical engineering in 1955. He later earned a masters degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California.
He later became a test pilot and flew the hottest aircraft around, including the sleek X-15 rocket plane, taking the powerful craft to 207,000 feet - the very edge of space.
Armstrong was in the first group of civilian astronauts, and made his initial flight in 1966, aboard Gemini VIII.
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.
His words, broadcast back to Earth, were the immortal, "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind."
The three members of Apollo 11 await pickup by a helicopter from the USS Hornet, after splashing down in the Pacific Ocean, about 812 nautical miles southwest of Hawaii, on July 24, 1969. The fourth man in the life raft is a U.S. Navy underwater demolition team swimmer. All four are wearing Biological Isolation Garments.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
By CBSNews.com senior editor David Morgan