The first man to set foot on the moon, the American Neil Armstrong, died Saturday in Ohio, days after surviving a heart operation, his family said in a statement. He was 82.

Armstrong, who in July 1969 made history on the Apollo 11 mission together with astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, underwent an operation in early August for cardiovascular problems, whose "complications" led to his death, according to the statement.

His family said they were "heartbroken to share the news" about the death of the man who made famous the phrase "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind," but said "we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves."

Before making history by landing on the moon 43 years ago, Armstrong was an engineer and test pilot for the U.S. Air Force, and later joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which was later replaced by NASA.

The Apollo 11 mission was the his last space flight, and his only important public appointment after that was as vice president of the investigation into the 1982 Challenger shuttle disaster.

His final public appearance was when he received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal together with his fellow astronauts in the moon landing, Aldrin and Collins. EFE