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Michael Collins (1930–2021), NASA astronaut on Apollo 11 mission

by Kirk Fox

Michael Collins was an astronaut whose most prominent journey was flying the Apollo 11 command module, the same mission that brought Neil Armstrong (1930–2012) and Buzz Aldrin to the moon.

Apollo 11 pilot

Michael Collins was part of the three member astronaut team on Apollo 11, the space flight in 1969 that first put a human on the moon. Neil Armstrong was the first to walk on the moon and astronaut Buzz Aldrin soon joined him. While they made history, Collins was orbiting the moon on Apollo 11. When Collins was flying on the back side of the moon, he was completely cut off from communications with NASA. He was chosen to become an astronaut in 1963 and he was the fourth human to space walk as part of Gemini 10. He left NASA shortly after Apollo 11 and joined the State Department.

On his view from space

“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.” –from an interview with NPR

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His childhood dream was to go to space

“I used to joke that NASA sent me to the wrong place, to the moon, because I think Mars is a more interesting place. It’s a place I always read about as a child.” –from an interview with NPR

Tributes to Michael Collins

Full obituary: Washington Post

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