NASA astronaut Michael Collins, who stayed behind in the command module of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969 while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin travelled to the lunar surface to become the first humans to walk on the moon, passed away on Wednesday April 28, at age 90, his family said. Selected as part of NASA’s third group of 14 astronauts in 1963, Collins flew in space twice. His first spaceflight was on Gemini 10 in 1966, in which he and Command Pilot John Young performed orbital rendezvous with two spacecraft and undertook two extravehicular activities (EVAs, also known as spacewalks).
On the 1969 Apollo 11 mission he became one of 24 people to fly to the Moon, which he orbited thirty times. He was the fourth person (and third American) to perform a spacewalk, the first person to have performed more than one spacewalk, and, after Young, who flew the command module on Apollo 10, the second person to orbit the Moon alone. Collins took the photo above of the Apollo 11 lunar module “Eagle” as it returned from the surface of the moon to dock with the command module “Columbia”. A half-illuminated Earth hangs over the horizon. Every single human but Collins is in this photo, which is pretty damn cool.
His strongest memory from Apollo 11, he said, was looking back at the Earth, which he said seemed “fragile.” “I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles, their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced,” he said.
Rest in peace Mr. Collins.
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