Neil Armstrong: Barack Obama leads tributes

President, Mitt Romney and Snoop Dogg among those to heap praise on the pioneering astronaut after his death

Neil Armstrong was a hero "not just of his time, but of all time", President Barack Obama said Saturday as he led tributes to the former astronaut.

The death of Armstrong at the age of 82 was met by a wave of eulogies as people paid respect to both the man and his achievements as a space pioneer.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden commented: "As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them," while fellow Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin said he was "very saddened" to hear of the death of a "good friend".

Armstrong, not a man usually inclined to get involved in politics, was known to be critical of the current White House administration's space policy. But Obama put such differences aside Saturday in a lavish tribute to the man who first set foot on the moon's surface.

In a statement, the president said: "Neil was among the greatest of American heroes – not just of his time, but of all time." He said that the the crew of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969 "carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation".

"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," Obama added.

Likewise, Obama's Republican challenger for the White House, Mitt Romney, paid tribute to the former astronaut, tweeting: "Neil Armstrong today takes his place in the hall of heroes. The moon will miss its first son of earth."

Michael Collins, who flew to the moon alongside Aldrin and Armstrong, described his former colleague as "the best", adding: "I will miss him terribly".

On Twitter, RIP Neil Armstrong was trending within minutes of the news of his death breaking.

Rapper Snoop Dogg, who in 2009 teamed-up with Buzz Aldrin to produce the track Rocket Experience commemorating the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing, was amongst those paying tribute online. "RIP to my Unk Neil Armstrong! Stay high," the hip hop star tweeted.

Bobak Ferdowsi, the flight director of the Nasa's Mars Curiosity mission, whose mohawk haircut saw him become an internet hit, tweeted: "RIP Neil Armstrong. Thank you for everything, for your sacrifices, achievements and inspiration. We will try to carry on your legacy."

In a statement, Armstrong's family issued a simple request for those wishing to pay tribute and remember his achievement: "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."


Matt Williams

The GuardianTramp

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