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In the years afterward, Mr. Armstrong retreated to the quiet of the classroom and his southwestern Ohio farm. In an Australian interview earlier this year, Mr. Armstrong acknowledged that “now and then I miss the excitement about being in the cockpit of an airplane and doing new things.”

Mr. Glenn, who went through jungle training in Panama with Mr. Armstrong as part of the astronaut program, described him as “exceptionally brilliant” with technical matters but “rather retiring, doesn’t like to be thrust into the limelight much.”

The 1969 landing met an audacious deadline that President Kennedy had set in May 1961, shortly after Alan Shepard became the first American in space with a 15-minute suborbital flight. (Soviet cosmonaut Yuri A. Gagarin had orbited the Earth and beaten the U.S. into space the previous month.)

“I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth,” Kennedy said. “No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important to the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

The end-of-decade goal was met with more than five months to spare.

“Houston: Tranquility Base here,” Mr. Armstrong radioed after the spacecraft settled onto the moon. “The Eagle has landed.”

“Roger, Tranquility,” Apollo astronaut Charles Duke radioed back from Mission Control. “We copy you on the ground. You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”

The third astronaut on the mission, Michael Collins, circled the moon in the mother ship, Columbia, 60 miles overhead while Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Aldrin went to the moon’s surface.

“He was the best, and I will miss him terribly,” Mr. Collins said through NASA.

In all, 12 American astronauts walked on the moon before the last moon mission in 1972.

For Americans, reaching the moon provided uplift and respite from the Vietnam War, from strife in the Middle East, from the startling news just a few days earlier that a young woman had drowned in a car driven off a wooden bridge on Chappaquiddick Island by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The landing occurred as organizers were gearing up for Woodstock, the legendary three-day rock festival on a farm in the Catskills of New York.

Mr. Armstrong was born Aug. 5, 1930, on a farm near Wapakoneta, in western Ohio. He took his first airplane ride at age 6 and developed a fascination with aviation that prompted him to build model airplanes and conduct experiments in a homemade wind tunnel.

As a boy, he worked at a pharmacy and took flying lessons. He was licensed to fly at 16, before he got his driver’s license.

Mr. Armstrong enrolled at Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering but was called to duty with the U.S. Navy in 1949 and flew 78 combat missions in Korea.

After the war, Mr. Armstrong finished his degree at Purdue and later earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California. He became a test pilot with what evolved into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, flying more than 200 kinds of aircraft from gliders to jets.

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