American astronaut Michael Collins, a member of the first manned mission to the moon, Apollo 11, died of cancer, his family said in a statement.
A command and service module pilot, he remained in orbit while fellow missionaries Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon.
“My dear Mike, wherever you have been or will be, you will always have the flame to carry us with new heights and skills for the future. We will miss you. May you be at peace.” Living member of Apollo 11.
Despite his great age, Michael Collins remained the most active of Apollo’s veterans in recent years, and the most poetic when he recalled his memories of the moon.
“When we left and saw it, oh, what a fantastic field,” he admitted to Washington in 2019.
“The sun was behind him, so he was illuminated by a golden circle that made the craters really strange because of the contrast between the whites and the blacks.”
“As spectacular and impressive as it was, it was nothing compared to what we saw through the second window,” he continued. “You had a thumb-shaped pea at the end of your hand, a beautiful little thing in the black velvet of the rest of the universe.”
– “The Loneliest Man in History” –
“I said to the control center: + Houston, I see the world in my window +”.
“Today the nation has lost a true pioneer and lifelong defender of exploration in the person of Michael Collins,” NASA said in a statement.
“Some called him + the loneliest man in history + – while his colleagues first went to the moon, he was helping our country reach an important milestone”, also underscores the US space agency .
Born on 31 October 1930 to a diplomatic father in Rome, Michael Collins trained at West Point Military Academy and became a fighter pilot and then a test pilot for the US Air Force.
In 1963, he joined NASA, two years after President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to see an American walking tour on the moon before the end of the decade.
He made several spacewalks, especially under the control of Gemini 10, in 1966, and was selected to take part in the first manned mission to the moon.
The only members of the Apollo 11 crew did not move on the Earth satellite, Collins says, adding that he did not harbor any bitterness.
– “No TV on board” –
He also later admitted that “32 hours to be too happy to be alone, stressful without humor” is one of the rare Americans that didn’t land after the moon landing because there was no board. “
On July 21, 1969, the day after Armstrong and Aldrin’s moon landed, AFP wrote to the Houston Space Center:
“Of the three Apollo 11+ astronauts, Collins is the most talkative, and has the most colorful language. After the two spacecraft separated on Sunday, he responded to the controllers, worried: + Listen to my cuties, all. Something is going very smoothly + “.
The dispatch of time also reveals that Michael Collins named his mission teammate “my little eagle”, and left alone in the capsule he launched impatiently into Houston: “I want to know when we Eat “.
Like Aldrin and Armstrong, Collins quickly left NASA after a victorious return to Earth and pursued a prosperous public career.
He was appointed assistant secretary for public affairs by President Richard Nixon, then directed the construction of the Washington Air Museum, assuming the presidency (1971–1978).
He then became a consultant and wrote books related to space adventure.
In his statement, the astronaut’s family remembers “his quick wit, his calm sense of duty, and the wisdom gained from looking up at Earth from space and observing the calm waters from his fishing boat”.