Astronaut Michael Collins, who circled the moon during the Apollo 11 touchdown, has died at age 90

Michael Collins practices in the Apollo 11 Command Module simulator on June 19, 1969, at Kennedy Space Center. NASA
  • NASA astronaut Michael Collins, who participated in the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission, has died at 90.

  • Collins piloted the Command Module Columbia whereas Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.

  • “The thing I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance,” Collins later stated.

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Astronaut Michael Collins, who performed a essential function in the Apollo 11 moon-landing mission, has died at age 90.

Collins launched towards the moon with fellow astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in July 1969. While his crewmates grew to become the first folks to stroll on the lunar floor, Collins piloted the Command Module Columbia that might carry the three of them again to Earth.

“I was the most lonesome person in the whole universe, at least according to the newspapers,” Collins joked in a 2014 Apollo panel held by NASA. “Actually, I was so glad to get behind the moon so Mission Control would shut up.”

The moon’s mass would block communications when the spaceship handed behind it, which was when Collins stated he “had some peace and quiet.” During that point on the command module, he carried out experiments and photographed the lunar floor.

“The thing I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance,” he later stated, in accordance with NPR. “Tiny. Very shiny. Blue and white. Bright. Beautiful. Serene and fragile.”

apollo 11 astronauts quarantine
The Apollo 11 crew in the Mobile Quarantine Facility, following their return to Earth. From left to proper: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin. NASA

Apollo 11 was Collins’ second spaceflight. He additionally piloted the three-day Gemini X mission in 1966, through which he carried out two spacewalks to retrieve an experimental package deal orbiting Earth.

According to a statement from his household, Collins died of most cancers on Wednesday, after spending “his final days peacefully, with his family by his side.”

The assertion continued: “Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way. We will miss him terribly. Yet we also know how lucky Mike felt to have lived the life he did. We will honor his wish for us to celebrate, not mourn, that life. Please join us in fondly and joyfully remembering his sharp wit, his quiet sense of purpose, and his wise perspective, gained both from looking back at Earth from the vantage of space and gazing across calm water from the deck of his fishing boat.”

astronaut michael collins mike apollo 11
On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, July 16, 2019, Michael Collins stands in the suit-up room in the astronaut crew quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA/Frank Michaux

Collins was born on October 31, 1930 in Rome, Italy, the place his father was a serious basic for the US Army.

He graduated from the the US Military Academy in West Point, New York in 1952, then grew to become an Air Force take a look at pilot. NASA chosen him to be an astronaut in 1963, in its third astronaut class.

astronaut michael collins mike apollo 11
In his area go well with, Command Module pilot Michael Collins does a last verify of his communications system earlier than the boarding of the Apollo 11 mission. NASA

He obtained the Presidential Medal for Freedom in 1969, in addition to the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

After Collins left NASA in 1970, he spent seven years as director of the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC, overseeing the development and opening of the museum constructing.

“Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins,” performing NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk stated in a statement on Wednesday. “Michael remained a tireless promoter of space … There is no doubt he inspired a new generation of scientists, engineers, test pilots, and astronauts.”

In whole, Collins spent 266 hours in area.

“Exploration is not a choice, really, it’s an imperative,” Collins as soon as stated, in accordance with NASA. “What would be worth recording is what kind of civilization we Earthlings created and whether or not we ventured out into other parts of the galaxy.”

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