“That showed a dedication to what he was doing that was admirable,” Mr. Glenn said.
A man who kept away from cameras, Mr. Armstrong went public in 2010 with his concerns about President Obama’s space policy that shifted attention away from a return to the moon and emphasized private companies developing spaceships. He testified before Congress, and in an email to the Associated Press, Mr. Armstrong said he had “substantial reservations.”
Along with more than two dozen Apollo-era veterans, he signed a letter calling the plan a “misguided proposal that forces NASA out of human space operations for the foreseeable future.”
Mr. Armstrong was among the greatest of American heroes, Mr. Obama said in a statement.
“When he and his fellow crew members lifted off aboard Apollo 11 in 1969, they carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation. 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,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Obama’s Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, echoed those sentiments, calling Mr. Armstrong an American hero whose passion for space, science and discovery will inspire him for the rest of his life.
“With courage unmeasured and unbounded love for his country, he walked where man had never walked before. The moon will miss its first son of Earth,” Mr. Romney said.
“As long as there are history books, NeilArmstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind’s first small step on a world beyond our own,” Mr. Bolden said in a statement.
Mr. Armstrong‘s modesty and self-effacing manner never faded.
When he appeared in Dayton, Ohio, in 2003 to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of powered flight, he bounded onto a stage before a packed baseball stadium. But he spoke for only a few seconds, did not mention the moon, and quickly ducked out of the spotlight.
“Thank you, John. Thirty-four years?” Mr. Armstrong quipped, as if he hadn’t given it a thought.
At another joint appearance, Mr. Glenn commented, “To this day, he’s the one person on earth I’m truly, truly envious of.”
Mr. Armstrong‘s moonwalk capped a series of accomplishments that included piloting the X-15 rocket plane and making the first space docking during the Gemini 8 mission, which included a successful emergency splashdown.