First Moon landing astronaut Michael Collins dies aged 90.
Moon landing hero Michael Collins has died aged 90 following a “valiant battle” with cancer. Collins was the command pilot of Apollo 11 in the first crewed mission to the moon with Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.
His family said in a statement: “We will miss him terribly. Yet we also know how lucky Mike felt to have lived the life he did. 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. 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.”
On July 16, 1969, Collins was launched to the Moon in the Apollo 11 mission with commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Edwin Aldrin.
Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the Moon in the lunar module Eagle on July 20 while Collins remained in the command module Columbia, circling the Moon at an altitude of 97–121 km (60–75 miles). Mr. Collins was a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, New York.
He spent 48 minutes in each orbit on the “far side of the moon” and in that time lost communication with mission control. Collins said he felt “awareness, anticipation, satisfaction, confidence, almost exultation”.
During orbit, he mostly performed chores, as well as keep an eye out for the Eagle lunar module in preparation to meet it again.
He joined the space program in 1963 after transferring to the air force, becoming a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California. On July 21 Armstrong and Aldrin rejoined him, and the following day the astronauts left lunar orbit. They splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on July 24.