File photo: Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, attends a graveside service for Wilbur Wright on the 100th anniversary of the burial of the powered flight pioneer in Dayton, Ohio. Armstrong died on Saturday.

Moscow - Russian cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko said on Sunday that Neil Armstrong took a big step in space conquest by becoming the first man on the moon just years after Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel to space.

“What Armstrong did in putting his feet on the moon was a great success,” Gorbatko told Russian television NTV, which ran a long report on Armstrong's death on Saturday at the age of 82.

“After the flight of Yuri Gagarin - the first man to go to space - Armstrong took a new step in space conquest, a big step ahead,” said Gorbatko, who was on two flights to space in 1977 and 1980 during the Cold War.

There was no official reaction from Russian authorities on the death of Armstrong, who became the first man on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Gagarin, who died in an air crash in 1968, was the first man in space on April 12, 1961. He remains a national hero and a symbol of Soviet domination in space conquest. - Sapa-AFP