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Michael Collins Apollo 11 pilot dies of cancer

buzz aldrin, Neil Armstrong

Michael Collins Apollo 11 pilot dies of cancer

'Forgotten Astronaut' Michael Collins Dies | WFUV Wed, 28 Apr 2021 12:00:00 -0700-Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who piloted the ship from which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left to make their historic first steps on the moon in 1969, …

Apollo 11 pilot Michael Collins dies of cancer

Apollo 11 pilot Michael Collins dies of cancer

By JESSICA GRESKO Associated Press

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who piloted the ship from which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left to make their historic first steps on the moon in 1969, died Wednesday of cancer, his family said. He was 90.

Collins was part of the three-man Apollo 11 crew that effectively ended the space race between the United States and Russia and fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon by the end of the 1960s.

Though he traveled some 238,000 miles to the moon and came within 69 miles, Collins never set foot on the lunar surface like his crewmates Aldrin and Armstrong, who died in 2012. None of the men flew in space after the Apollo 11 mission.

“It’s human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand,” Collins said on the 10th anniversary of the moon landing in 1979. “Exploration is not a choice really — it’s an imperative, and it’s simply a matter of timing as to when the option is exercised.”

In a statement, acting NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk said: “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.”

Collins spent the eight-day mission piloting the command module. While Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the moon’s surface in the lunar lander, Eagle, Collins remained alone in the command module, Columbia.

“I guess you’re about the only person around that doesn’t have TV coverage of the scene,” Mission Control radioed Collins after the landing.

“That’s all right. I don’t mind a bit,” he responded.

Collins was alone for nearly 28 hours before Armstrong and Aldrin finished their tasks on the moon’s surface and lifted off in the lunar lander. Collins was responsible for re-docking the two spacecraft before the men could begin heading back to Earth. Had something gone wrong and Aldrin and Armstrong been stuck on the moon’s surface — a real fear — Collins would have returned to Earth alone.

Though he was frequently asked if he regretted not landing on the moon, that was never an option for Collins, at least not on Apollo 11. Collins’ specialty was as a command module pilot, a job he compared to being the base-camp operator on a mountain climbing expedition. As a result, it meant he wasn’t considered to take part in the July 20, 1969, landing.

“I know that I would be a liar or a fool if I said that I have the best of the three Apollo 11 seats, but I can say with truth and equanimity that I am perfectly satisfied with the one I have,” he wrote in his 1974 autobiography, “Carrying the Fire.” “This venture has been structured for three men, and I consider my third to be as necessary as either of the other two.”

Collins was born in Rome on Halloween 1930. His parents were Virginia Collins and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James L. Collins. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1952, a year behind Aldrin, Collins joined the Air Force, where he became a fighter pilot and test pilot.

John Glenn’s 1962 flight making him the first American to orbit the Earth persuaded Collins to apply to NASA. He was accepted on his second try, in 1963, as part of the third group of astronauts selected. Collins’ first mission was 1966′s Gemini 10, one of the two-man missions made in preparation for flights to the moon.

Along with John Young, Collins practiced maneuvers necessary for a moon landing and performed a spacewalk during the three-day mission. During the spacewalk, he famously lost a camera, which is frequently cited as one of the items of “space junk” orbiting Earth.

On Jan. 9, 1969, NASA announced that Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin would be on the crew of Apollo 11, the United States’ first moon landing attempt. Of his fellow Apollo 11 astronauts, Collins said they were: “Smart as hell, both of them, competent and experienced, each in his own way.” Still, Collins called the group “amiable strangers” because the trio never developed as intense a bond as other crews.

Of the three, Collins was the acknowledged jokester. Aldrin called him the “easygoing guy who brought levity into things.” In summarizing Kennedy’s famous challenge to go to the moon, for example, Collins later said: “It was beautiful in its simplicity. Do what? Moon. When? End of decade.”

The Apollo 11 crew trained for just six months before launching on July 16, 1969, from Florida's Cape Canaveral. The mission insignia — an eagle landing on the moon with an olive branch in its talons — was largely Collins’ creation.

Collins said one of the things that struck him most was the way the Earth looked from space — peaceful and serene but also delicate.

“As I look back on Apollo 11, I more and more am attracted to my recollection, not of the moon, but of the Earth. Tiny, little Earth in its little black velvet background,” Collins said while marking the mission's 50th anniversary in 2019.

In contrast, he said the moon seemed almost hostile. In fact, it was considered so hostile that on their return, Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin all spent several days in a quarantine trailer. They received visitors, including President Richard Nixon, staring through a window.

When the group was finally deemed safe, they went on a world tour, visiting 25 countries in just over five weeks.

Collins often remarked that he was surprised that everywhere they went people didn’t say “Well, you Americans finally did it.” Instead, they said, “Well, we finally did it,” meaning “we” humans.

Early on, Collins said Apollo 11 would be his last mission, though officials at NASA wanted him to continue flying. Collins soon left NASA and joined the State Department as assistant secretary for public affairs. Though he enjoyed the people he later wrote that “long hours in Washington flying a great mahogany desk” didn’t suit him.

After about a year he left and joined the Smithsonian Institution. There, he led a team responsible for planning and opening the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum, where the Apollo 11 capsule and artifacts now reside, including some of Collins’ personal items from that mission — flight checklists, his toothbrush, razor and a tube of Old Spice shaving cream.

Along with his autobiography, Collins wrote a book on his experience for younger readers, “Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut’s Story.” In a 1994 preface to the book, Collins urged more spending on space exploration and on a manned mission to Mars.

“I am too old to fly to Mars, and I regret that. But I still think I have been very, very lucky,” he wrote. “I was born in the days of biplanes and Buck Rogers, learned to fly in the early jets, and hit my peak when moon rockets came along. That’s hard to beat.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

By JESSICA GRESKO Associated Press

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who piloted the ship from which Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left to make their historic first steps on the moon in 1969, died Wednesday of cancer, his family said. He was 90.

Collins was part of the three-man Apollo 11 crew that effectively ended the space race between the United States and Russia and fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon by the end of the 1960s.

Though he traveled some 238,000 miles to the moon and came within 69 miles, Collins never set foot on the lunar surface like his crewmates Aldrin and Armstrong, who died in 2012. None of the men flew in space after the Apollo 11 mission.

“It’s human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand,” Collins said on the 10th anniversary of the moon landing in 1979. “Exploration is not a choice really — it’s an imperative, and it’s simply a matter of timing as to when the option is exercised.”

In a statement, acting NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk said: “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.”

Collins spent the eight-day mission piloting the command module. While Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the moon’s surface in the lunar lander, Eagle, Collins remained alone in the command module, Columbia.

“I guess you’re about the only person around that doesn’t have TV coverage of the scene,” Mission Control radioed Collins after the landing.

“That’s all right. I don’t mind a bit,” he responded.

Collins was alone for nearly 28 hours before Armstrong and Aldrin finished their tasks on the moon’s surface and lifted off in the lunar lander. Collins was responsible for re-docking the two spacecraft before the men could begin heading back to Earth. Had something gone wrong and Aldrin and Armstrong been stuck on the moon’s surface — a real fear — Collins would have returned to Earth alone.

Though he was frequently asked if he regretted not landing on the moon, that was never an option for Collins, at least not on Apollo 11. Collins’ specialty was as a command module pilot, a job he compared to being the base-camp operator on a mountain climbing expedition. As a result, it meant he wasn’t considered to take part in the July 20, 1969, landing.

“I know that I would be a liar or a fool if I said that I have the best of the three Apollo 11 seats, but I can say with truth and equanimity that I am perfectly satisfied with the one I have,” he wrote in his 1974 autobiography, “Carrying the Fire.” “This venture has been structured for three men, and I consider my third to be as necessary as either of the other two.”

Collins was born in Rome on Halloween 1930. His parents were Virginia Collins and U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James L. Collins. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1952, a year behind Aldrin, Collins joined the Air Force, where he became a fighter pilot and test pilot.

John Glenn’s 1962 flight making him the first American to orbit the Earth persuaded Collins to apply to NASA. He was accepted on his second try, in 1963, as part of the third group of astronauts selected. Collins’ first mission was 1966′s Gemini 10, one of the two-man missions made in preparation for flights to the moon.

Along with John Young, Collins practiced maneuvers necessary for a moon landing and performed a spacewalk during the three-day mission. During the spacewalk, he famously lost a camera, which is frequently cited as one of the items of “space junk” orbiting Earth.

On Jan. 9, 1969, NASA announced that Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin would be on the crew of Apollo 11, the United States’ first moon landing attempt. Of his fellow Apollo 11 astronauts, Collins said they were: “Smart as hell, both of them, competent and experienced, each in his own way.” Still, Collins called the group “amiable strangers” because the trio never developed as intense a bond as other crews.

Of the three, Collins was the acknowledged jokester. Aldrin called him the “easygoing guy who brought levity into things.” In summarizing Kennedy’s famous challenge to go to the moon, for example, Collins later said: “It was beautiful in its simplicity. Do what? Moon. When? End of decade.”

The Apollo 11 crew trained for just six months before launching on July 16, 1969, from Florida's Cape Canaveral. The mission insignia — an eagle landing on the moon with an olive branch in its talons — was largely Collins’ creation.

Collins said one of the things that struck him most was the way the Earth looked from space — peaceful and serene but also delicate.

“As I look back on Apollo 11, I more and more am attracted to my recollection, not of the moon, but of the Earth. Tiny, little Earth in its little black velvet background,” Collins said while marking the mission's 50th anniversary in 2019.

In contrast, he said the moon seemed almost hostile. In fact, it was considered so hostile that on their return, Collins, Armstrong and Aldrin all spent several days in a quarantine trailer. They received visitors, including President Richard Nixon, staring through a window.

When the group was finally deemed safe, they went on a world tour, visiting 25 countries in just over five weeks.

Collins often remarked that he was surprised that everywhere they went people didn’t say “Well, you Americans finally did it.” Instead, they said, “Well, we finally did it,” meaning “we” humans.

Early on, Collins said Apollo 11 would be his last mission, though officials at NASA wanted him to continue flying. Collins soon left NASA and joined the State Department as assistant secretary for public affairs. Though he enjoyed the people he later wrote that “long hours in Washington flying a great mahogany desk” didn’t suit him.

After about a year he left and joined the Smithsonian Institution. There, he led a team responsible for planning and opening the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum, where the Apollo 11 capsule and artifacts now reside, including some of Collins’ personal items from that mission — flight checklists, his toothbrush, razor and a tube of Old Spice shaving cream.

Along with his autobiography, Collins wrote a book on his experience for younger readers, “Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut’s Story.” In a 1994 preface to the book, Collins urged more spending on space exploration and on a manned mission to Mars.

“I am too old to fly to Mars, and I regret that. But I still think I have been very, very lucky,” he wrote. “I was born in the days of biplanes and Buck Rogers, learned to fly in the early jets, and hit my peak when moon rockets came along. That’s hard to beat.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


قراءة المزيد

Apollo 11 pilot Michael Collins dies of cancer Wed, 28 Apr 2021 12:00:00 -0700-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 …

 

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. In a statement released by his family, “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. 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 Neil 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 their 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.”

Forgotten Astronaut

As he orbited, half the time he could talk to controllers 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.”

Life Before Space

Mike Collins was born in 1930 in Rome, Italy 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.”

Life After Space

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.

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– April 28, 2021
buzz aldrin, Neil Armstrong