Michael Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut, dies at 90

Science

NBC News 28 April, 2021 - 06:57pm 37 views

When did Michael Collins Astronaut die?

On July 20, 1969, eight years after President John F. Kennedy pledged to land a man on the lunar surface and return him safely to Earth, astronaut Michael Collins sat alone in the command module Columbia. Washington PostMichael Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut, dies at 90

As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted humanity's first bootprints on the moon, Collins stayed behind to pilot the command module, circling roughly 60 miles above the lunar surface. As such, Collins himself never stepped foot on the moon, though his accomplishments together with Armstrong and Aldrin contributed to what remains one of the most famous space missions in history.

Collins' death was announced by family members.

"We regret to share that our beloved father and grandfather passed away today, after a valiant battle with cancer," Collins' family said in a statement on Twitter. "He spent his final days peacefully, with his family by his side. Mike always faced the challenge 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."

Collins was known for his quiet and unassuming nature, and in recent years had become an active voice on social media, where he shared "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," his family said in the statement.

NASA paid tribute to Collins, highlighting his distinguished career and his work inspiring generations of explorers.

"Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins," acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said in a statement. "Whether his work was behind the scenes or on full view, his legacy will always be as one of the leaders who took America's first steps into the cosmos. And his spirit will go with us as we venture toward farther horizons."

Collins was born in Italy in 1930. After graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Collins served as a fighter pilot and experimental test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California from 1958 to 1963.

Collins was selected by NASA to become an astronaut in 1963. His first flight was a three-day mission aboard Gemini 10, which launched on July 18, 1966. The expedition conducted a docking test and double rendezvous in orbit, and during the flight, Collins became the third person in U.S. history to conduct a spacewalk.

Apollo 11 was Collins' second flight into space. In his bestselling 1974 memoir, "Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journey," Collins reflected on his solitary time in orbit around the moon — an experience that prompted some to call him "the loneliest man in history."

"I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life," Collins wrote. "I am it. If a count were taken, the score would be three billion plus two over on the other side of the moon, and one plus God knows what on this side."

Collins retired from NASA in 1970. After leaving the space agency, he served as director of the National Air and Space Museum and as undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

Read full article at NBC News

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins dead at 90

Fox News 28 April, 2021 - 02:10pm

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Apollo 11 landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. Here is a brief timeline of events that lead to the historic moment, from President Kennedy's call to action in 1961 to 'The Eagle has landed' in 1969.

NASA astronaut Michael Collins died Wednesday at age 90 after a battle with cancer.

Collins flew as one of the three crew members on the famous Apollo 11 mission in July 1969. 

"We regret to share that our beloved father and grandfather passed away today, after a valiant battle with cancer. He spent his final days peacefully, with his family by his side," Collins' family wrote in a statement on Twitter. "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," they continued. "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."

The family also asked for privacy and promised details on services would be forthcoming.

Collins, who was born in Rome, Italy, where his father served as a major general in the U.S. Army

Collins would graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and joined the U.S. Air Force to become a fighter pilot and an experimental test pilot at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. 

He served there from 1959 to 1963, logging more than 4,200 hours of flying time and eventually achieving the rank of major general.

NASA chose Collins as an astronaut in October 1963. His first flight was aboard Gemini 10 in July 1966, when he became the fourth human to conduct a spacewalk.

The space pilot's second flight was the United States' first lunar landing mission, although Collins never walked on the moon unlike fellow crew members Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

Serving as command module pilot, he remained in lunar orbit and is often known as the "forgotten astronaut."

"The thing I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance," he would later recall in an interview with NPR. "Tiny. Very shiny. Blue and white. Bright. Beautiful. Serene and fragile."

Collins logged 266 hours in space, of which 1 hour and 27 minutes were spent in Extravehicular activity (EVA).

Upon departing NASA in January 1970, Collins became assistant secretary of state for public affairs.

More than a year later, he joined the Smithsonian Institution as director of the National Air and Space Museum, where he stayed for seven years. 

In April 1978, Collins became undersecretary of Smithsonian.

In 1980, Collins became the vice president of the LTV Aerospace and Defense Company and resigned five years later to start his own firm.

He is the author of several books including the 1974 "Carrying the Fire," 1976 "Flying to the Moon and Other Strange Places," and 1988 "Liftoff: The Story of America's Adventure in Space."

Collins also remained active through the years, competing in triathlons, fishing and painting.

"I am certain, if everyone could see the Earth floating just outside their windows, every day would be #EarthDay," Collins wrote in a tweet on April 22. "There are few things more fragile or more beautiful than Earth, let’s work together today and everyday to protect our home."

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'Forgotten Astronaut' Michael Collins Dies

NPR 28 April, 2021 - 02:10pm

An astronaut who flew on one of the most famous space missions of all time has died. Michael Collins, 90, was part of the three-member crew on Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission in 1969. Unlike Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, he never walked on the moon. Collins stayed behind and piloted the command module as it circled above. Because of that, Collins is often called the "forgotten astronaut."

Collins had been battling cancer. A statement released by his family said, "He spent his final days peacefully, with his family by his side. Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge in the same way."

NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said the nation lost 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," Jurczyk said in a statement. "Whether his work was behind the scenes or on full view, his legacy will always be as one of the leaders who took America's first steps into the cosmos. And his spirit will go with us as we venture toward farther horizons."

When Armstrong first stepped on the moon and uttered the famous phrase, "Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed," Collins was in orbit, 60 miles above, just as busy, and just as excited, telling the team back in Houston he was listening to communications with his comrades, and it was "fantastic."

Aldrin and Armstrong were on the lunar surface just under 22 hours. The world was transfixed, seeing them bunny-hop along, take pictures and collect lunar samples during a single, short moonwalk. All the while, Collins circled the moon, looking down at the barren lunar landscape and peering back at the Earth. "The thing I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance," he said later. "Tiny. Very shiny. Blue and white. Bright. Beautiful. Serene and fragile."

As he orbited, he could talk to controllers half the time, but when he was on the back side of the moon, he was completely cut off. It was because of this part of the mission that some dubbed him the loneliest man in humanity. As he recalled in a 2016 NPR interview, he didn't think of it that way. He said, "The fact that I was ... out of communications, rather than that being a fear, that was a joy because I got Mission Control to shut up for a little while. Every once in a while."

"It's a shame that when people are asked, 'Can you name the Apollo 11 crew?' Mike Collins is normally the name that doesn't come to mind," said Francis French, space historian and author of many books on the space program. "Because in many ways he was the keystone of the mission. He was the one who really knew how to fly the spacecraft solo (the only person who flew a spacecraft solo in the entire mission) and the only one who could get all three of them home."

"And if something went wrong with the lunar lander that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were in," French noted, "Michael Collins had the engine that could try to rendezvous with somewhere around the moon and rescue them."

Mike Collins was born in 1930 in Rome, where his dad was a major general in the U.S. Army. Service and duty were a part of Collins his whole life. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and later joined the Air Force and became a test pilot.

NASA chose him as an astronaut in 1963, and his first flight was aboard Gemini 10. On that mission, he became the fourth human to conduct a spacewalk.

As a boy, Collins dreamed of going to space. "I used to joke that NASA sent me to the wrong place, to the moon," he said, "because I think Mars is a more interesting place. It's a place I always read about as a child."

Mars was also a place he wrote about as an adult. Collins authored several books, and one, Carrying the Fire, is considered the best of all the astronaut autobiographies.

Apollo 11 was his final trip to space, and he never dwelled on missing a chance to step on the moon. "As an astronaut I always thought I had the best job in the world, and I still think that," he said, "but for me when it was over it was over."

Still, he said, he would look up and see the moon and think, " 'Oh my God! I've been there!' I was up there, you see. Kind of takes me by surprise despite all these years."

He called his time with NASA "a chapter in my life — the shiniest best chapter in my life — but not the only one."

Collins achieved the rank of major general. He left NASA in 1970 to join the State Department. Later he became director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, overseeing its construction and opening in 1976.

In his later years, Collins didn't slow down. He competed in triathlons, loved fishing and even took up painting.

Astronaut Michael Collins, Who Orbited Moon During Apollo 11, Dies at 90: NASA

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now 28 April, 2021 - 02:10pm

RIP Michael Collins, "Third Man" of the first Moon landing

Boing Boing 28 April, 2021 - 02:10pm

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins died today. He was 90. When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin boarded the lunar module Eagle for the historic Moon landing on July 20, 1969, Collins piloted in the Apollo 11 spacecraft Columbia as it orbited the Moon.

From The New York Times:

Colonel Collins was greatly worried about the moment when the lunar module was to blast off from the moon to dock with Columbia for the trip back to Earth. He knew that if the lander's ascent engine malfunctioned, Mr. Armstrong and Colonel Aldrin might be stranded on the lunar surface or be sent into a wild orbit.

"What happens if they veer this way, that way, the other way?" Colonel Collins remarked 50 years later, noting that he had carried a packet around his neck containing 18 contingency plans for rescuing his crewmates.

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Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins dies at 90: family

Gulf News 28 April, 2021 - 11:48am

"Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way," Collins' family tweeted on his official Twitter account.

"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."

Details about the service would be forthcoming, they added.

Born in Rome in 1930 to a US army officer serving as military attache there, Collins went on to become a fighter pilot with the air force and retired with the rank of Major General.

He is best known for being a member of the Apollo 11 mission when his crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to set foot on the Moon.

Collins would go on to say the experience forever changed his perspective, impressing upon him the fragility of our home planet.

"When we rolled out and looked at (the Moon), oh, it was an awesome sphere," he said at a 2019 event at George Washington University commemorating the 50th anniversary.

But "as magnificent as that was, as impressive, and as much as I will remember that, that was nothing, nothing compared to this other window out there," he continued.

"Out there was this little pea about the size of your thumbnail at arm's length: blue, white, very shiny, you get the blue of the oceans, white of the clouds, streaks of rust we call continents, such a beautiful gorgeous tiny thing, nestled into this black velvet of the rest of the universe."

Collins never returned to space but went on to become a diplomat, serving as assistant secretary of state for public affairs at the height of the Vietnam war.

He later became the first director of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

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