Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins dies at 90
American astronaut Michael Collins, who as pilot of the Apollo 11 command module stayed behind on July 20, 1969, while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin traveled to the lunar surface to become the first humans to walk on the moon, died on Wednesday at age 90, his family said.
A statement released by his family said Collins died of cancer.
Often described as the “forgotten” third astronaut on the historic mission, Collins remained alone in the command module for more than 21 hours until his two fellow astronauts returned in the lunar module.
He lost contact with mission control in Houston each time the spacecraft circled the dark side of the moon.
“Not since Adam has any human known such solitude as Mike Collins,” the mission log said, referring to the biblical figure.
Collins wrote an account of his experiences in his 1974 autobiography, “Carrying the Fire,” but largely shunned publicity.
“I know that I would be a liar or a fool if I said that I have the best of the three Apollo 11 seats, but I can say with truth and equanimity that I am perfectly satisfied with the one I have,” Collins said in comments released by NASA in 2009.
President Joe Biden said his prayers were with the Collins family.
“From his vantage point, high above the Earth, he reminded us of the fragility of our own planet, and called on us to care for it like the treasure it is,” Biden said in a statement. “Godspeed, Mike.”
Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk on Wednesday hailed Collins as “a true pioneer.”
“NASA mourns the loss of this accomplished pilot and astronaut, a friend of all who seek to push the envelope of human potential. … His spirit will go with us as we venture toward farther horizons,” Jurczyk said in a statement…..read more