President Barack Obama and his election challenger Mitt Romney led the tributes to First Man on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, who died on Saturday aged 82.

Obama hailed the pioneering astronaut as one of America’s greatest heroes.

In a statement issued by the White House, Obama said Armstrong and the rest of the crew of Apollo 11 carried with them the aspirations of an entire nation when they set out for the moon in 1969.

“Neil was among the greatest of American heroes — not just of his time, but of all time,” said Obama.

“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.

“And 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.”