Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins has died at the age of 90 after a long battle with cancer, his family has confirmed through social media.
Collins was part of the three-man crew that made history with the 1969 Moon landing, but unlike Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, he never walked on our satellite. Although he traveled to the Moon, the astronaut was in charge of piloting the command module that orbited above his comrades, and he took home a different and unique experience of the mission.
“What I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance. Tiny. Very bright. Blue and white. Bright. Beautiful. Serene and fragile,” he would say on one occasion.
Collins was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. In 1966, he served as a pilot on the 3-day Gemini 10 mission, during which he set a world altitude record and became the third The nation’s spacewalker, completing two extravehicular activities.
Collins was supposed to fly on Apollo 8 , but surgery for a herniated cervical disc required a replacement, and he was later assigned as a command module pilot for Apollo 11, which involved extensive retraining.
His second flight was as a command module pilot for the historic Apollo 11 mission in July 1969. He remained in lunar orbit aboard CSM Columbia while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended on the Eagle spot module and became the first men to fly. walk on the moon. Meanwhile, Collins had become the most isolated person in history, far removed from any other human being.
In these 21 hours alone on the spacecraft, he carried out routine maintenance and attempted to detect the lunar module from orbit. The mission was a success and the three astronauts returned to Earth as heroes.
Once in Los Angeles, Collins received with his companions the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civil honor in the United States.
Crowd of condolences
The Collins family shared a heartfelt message after his passing: “We are sorry to share that our beloved father and grandfather passed away today after a valiant battle with cancer. He spent his last days in peace, with his family by his side. Mike always faced life’s challenges with grace and humility, and he faced this, his final challenge, in the same way. We are going to miss him very much ”.
His lunar travel companion, Buzz Aldrin, has also dedicated some emotional words to him on his Twitter account:
And these are the words of the acting NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk on the passing of Michael Collins:
“Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate of exploration in astronaut Michael Collins. As an Apollo 11 command module pilot, some called him “the loneliest man in history. Michael remained a tireless promoter of space. His own signature accomplishments, his writing about his experiences, and his leadership at the National Air Museum. and Space helped gain broad exposure of the work of all the men and women who have helped our nation achieve greatness in aviation and space. There is no doubt that it inspired a new generation of scientists, engineers, pilots. of tests and astronauts. NASA mourns the loss of this accomplished pilot and astronaut, a friend to all who seek to expand human potential. Whether his work is behind the scenes or in plain sight, his legacy will always remain as one of the leaders who took America’s first steps into the cosmos. And their spirit will be with us as we venture into more distant horizons. “