Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, is “doing great” after undergoing cardiac bypass surgery on Tuesday. Armstrong underwent surgery to bypass four blockages in his coronary arteries after failing a cardiac stress test after his 82nd birthday. Armstrong’s wife, Carol, told reporters about her husband’s condition with Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan at a Cincinnati hospital.
In a statement, NASA administrator Charles Bolden said:
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. I know countless well-wishers around the world join us in sending get-well wishes to this true American hero.
Armstrong became an American hero when he declared, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he became the first human to set foot on the Moon in 1969. He was the mission commander of the Apollo 11 with his crewmates Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
After the Apollo 11 Moon Mission, Armstrong was appointed Deputy Associate Administrator for aeronautics at the Pentagon’s Office of Advanced Research and Technology. In 1971, Armstrong resigned from that position to become the University Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. After eventually leaving his professor position, Armstrong became a spokesman for General Time Corporation and the Bankers Association of America in 1979. He later retired as chairman of the board of EDO Corporation in 2002.
Armstrong was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal last November. He also testified at congressional hearings on the future of NASA and human spaceflight and jokingly stated, if he were asked, he would offer his services as commander on a mission to Mars.