American astronaut Michael Collins, best known for staying behind in the command module of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, passed away on Wednesday, April 28. He died of cancer at the age of 90. Collins is often referred to as the “forgotten” third astronaut of the iconic mission. His other two partners on the Apollo 11 mission were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. A part of Collins’ family statement accessed by news agency Reuters reads, “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 waters from the deck of his fishing boat."
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has also mourned the loss of the iconic astronaut. The organisation on its official Twitter handle has shared a compilation of his memories.
We mourn the passing of Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who piloted humanity’s first voyage to the surface of another world. An advocate for exploration, @AstroMCollins inspired generations and his legacy propels us further into the cosmos: https://t.co/47by569R56 pic.twitter.com/rKMxdTIYYm— NASA (@NASA) April 28, 2021
Here is a quick look at some facts about the eventful life of late American astronaut Collins:
- Collins was born on October 31, 1930 in Rome. Interestingly, Armstrong and Aldrin too were born in the same year.
- Apollo 11 was his second and finalspace flight.
- He was chosen by NASA for its astronaut program in 1963.
- He attended the Military Academy in New York’s West Point and graduated in 1952.
- Collins started his career as an Air Force test pilot.
- He became the director of the National Air and Space Museum and stepped down in 1978.
- The American astronaut has written quite a few space-related books.
- His first trip to space was in July 1966. He was a pilot on Gemini X mission. This mission is said to have prepared NASA's Apollo mission.
- The Gemini mission conducted successful docking with a separate target vehicle in space.
- During the Apollo mission, Collins used to spend over 21 hours alone in the lunar module.
- He used to lose contact with the mission control every time the spacecraft circled the dark side of the moon.
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