October 31, 1930 – April 28, 2021
Michael Collins, the NASA astronaut who piloted the Apollo 11 spacecraft Columbia, died April 28, 2021. He was 90.
Collins, who spent seven years as an astronaut at NASA, piloted command module Columbia in orbit 60 miles above the moon while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969.
His family released a statement on his passing, announcing that their 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. 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. 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. Our family asks for privacy during this difficult time. Details on services will be forthcoming.”
Collins was born Oct. 31, 1930, in Rome, where his father, James L. Collins, was a major general in the U.S. Army. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1952, Collins joined the ranks of military test pilots at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
NASA chose him as an astronaut in 1963. Less than three years later, he took his first flight aboard the Gemini 10, the precursor program to Apollo, and orbited Earth. On that mission he became the fourth human to conduct a spacewalk.
Just three years after that, Collins was part of the three-member crew on Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission that lasted eight days.
Though Collins was in orbit aboard Columbia when Armstrong stepped on the moon and uttered the famous phrase, “Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed,” Collins was just as excited as his colleague, telling the team in Houston he was listening to communications with his comrades, and it was “fantastic.” An estimated 650 million people worldwide watched the moon landing.
While Armstrong and Aldrin spent nearly a full day on the surface, Collins circled the moon. He later said the thing he remembered most was the view of planet Earth from a great distance. “Tiny. Very shiny. Blue and white. Bright. Beautiful. Serene and fragile,” he recalled.
After spending nearly 22 hours on the surface of the moon, Armstrong and Aldrin ascended and docked with Columbia. The trio then started their three-day trip back to Earth. When they splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, the Apollo 11 crew were American heroes.
Apollo 11 was Collins’ final trip to space, leaving NASA in 1970 to join the State Department. Collins described his time with NASA as “a chapter in my life—the shiniest best chapter in my life—but not the only one.”
In 1971, Collins became the third director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., overseeing the construction of a new facility and its opening in 1976. It quickly became one of the most popular museums in the world. He served in that role until 1978.
Collins’ wife, Patricia, was a social worker. She died in 2014.
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May 4, 2021
These days too few lives are celebrated for the good deeds accomplished . Too few heros are remembered or revered for being human.
All my heros are disappearing. May we remember them forever.
God Speed Michael Collins.
Joseph E Willett II
April 29, 2021
A personal hero of mine. Did his job. Accomplished more than most of mankind in the name of Peace and Knowledge. A hero to an entire generation. An Inspiration to even strangers. God bless You Mr Collins on Gods last journey for you. Joseph E Willett II
April 29, 2021
Goodby to you sir, mission accompished and so much more. The world will never forget you and the rest of the crew of Apollo11. Rest in peace for a life well lived.
April 29, 2021
Michael Collins was a true legend. From being pilot that he always wanted to be, then to be going on the first moon landing, that is one cool dude. Now even though he didn't walk on the moon he did do a lot of things that would help apollo 11 get to and back. But Mike's time as a CM pilot could lead the way to the next big pilot, for Mars. May God bless .
Yvette Del Pino
April 28, 2021
What a memory to share. Michael Collins had a view of planet earth that only a few mortals share. My family can only imagine the awe with which he viewed his home from such a distance. We look up at the moon from the earth and often wonder what it is like up there. Michael Collins had died with that sight burned into his memory, so much so that upon the promised resurrection to life on this earth, he will continue thinking about and sharing that experience. Our lord and savior Jesus Christ stated at John 5:28,29 the following words - “Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life......”. Mr. Collins will truly be elated to return to this earth, free of the conditions currently existing. So as he requested, do not mourn, celebrate his life, It was well lived. Once again, sincere condolences.
Yvette del Pino