published Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Armstrong, 1st to walk on moon, has heart surgery



Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong speaks at a celebration dinner honoring John Glenn in Columbus, Ohio.
Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong speaks at a celebration dinner honoring John Glenn in Columbus, Ohio.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, was recovering Wednesday from heart surgery, days after his 82nd birthday.

It wasn’t clear where the surgery occurred or where Armstrong was recuperating. A NASA spokesman who talked to Armstrong’s wife, Carol, said only that the former astronaut was recovering Wednesday. His birthday was Sunday.

A Facebook statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden wished Armstrong a quick recovery from cardiac bypass surgery.

“Neil’s pioneering spirit will surely serve him well in this challenging time and the entire NASA Family is holding the Armstrong family in our thoughts and prayers,” the statement said.

Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, and he radioed back to Earth the historic news of “one giant leap for mankind.” He spent nearly three hours walking on the moon with fellow astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.

A message Wednesday on Aldrin’s Twitter account also wished Armstrong well.

Armstrong and his wife married in 1999 and made their home in the Cincinnati suburb of Indian Hill, but he has largely stayed out of public view in recent years.

He spoke at Ohio State University during a February event honoring fellow astronaut John Glenn and the 50th anniversary of Glenn becoming the first American to orbit the Earth. In May, Armstrong joined Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida to support the opening of The National Flight Academy, which aims to teach math and science to kids through an aviation-oriented camp.

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