The historic flight of Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission in 1969, he lost his pilot this Wednesday, astronaut Michael Collins, who died at 90 years old for cancer.
“Collins wrote and helped tell the story of our nation’s remarkable achievements in space,” said the President of the United States, Joe biden, by offering his condolences to the astronaut’s family.
While Armstrong and Aldrin walked the lunar surface, Collins piloted the command module as it circled overhead.
With his death, the only survivor of the feat on Martian soil of 52 years ago is the astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who today mourned the loss of his partner. “Dear Mike, wherever you have been or are, you will always have the fire to skillfully take us to new heights,” Aldrin, 91, said on his Twitter account.
Neil Armstrong, the other pioneer of the Moon, died at the age of 82 in 2012 due to complications after undergoing surgery to relieve coronary artery disease.
In July 1969 about a million people gathered in Cape Canaveral, on the east coast of Florida, and its surroundings to witness the launch of Apollo 11 with the three astronauts from the US space agency NASA.
Collins, Aldrin, and Armstrong left on July 16 of that year, at 9:32 a.m., for the Moon as part of NASA’s Apollo program. The Saturn V rocket carrying the spacecraft in which they reached the Moon on July 20 took off from Florida, making Armstrong and Aldrin the first humans to set foot on the lunar surface.
Unlike both, Collins never walked on the moon, stayed behind and piloted the command module as it circled overhead. “He may not have received the same glory, but he was an equal partner, reminding our nation of the importance of collaboration in the service of great goals,” President Biden said today.
We mourn the passing of Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who piloted humanity’s first voyage to the surface of another world
For his part, the former president Mike pence (2017-2021) noted that “as an Apollo 11 command module pilot, Michael helped pioneer a generation of space exploration and showed us limitless opportunity that awaits us on the Moon and beyond.”
“We mourn the death of Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who piloted humanity’s first voyage to the surface of another world,” said the POT it’s a statement.
With an eye on Mars
Collins, who was the star of the Apollo 11 50th anniversary celebrations two years ago at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, said on that occasion his wish to go to the red planet. “I don’t want to go back to the Moon. I want to go to Mars ”, he underlined then.
His death occurs amid the resumption since 2020 of the manned trips from US soil to the International Space Station (ISS) after a nine-year hiatus after the end of NASA’s shuttle program in 2011.
Collins was the star of the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary celebrations two years ago at the Kennedy Space Center
These business trips, in association with the company Spacex, seek to lower mission costs and reuse capsules Dragon and the rockets Falcon 9 to multiply the presence of astronauts on the ISS and advance future missions to the Moon and Mars.
NASA today underscored that Collins “helped our nation achieve a decisive milestone” and recalled that he also distinguished himself in the Gemini Program and as an Air Force pilot. “Michael remained a tireless promoter of space,” NASA said in the statement.
“Collins lived a life of service to our country. From his time in the Air Force to his career at NASA, his service in the State Department, his leadership in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, ”said President Biden.
The fortune of seeing the Earth from space
A statement released for his family said yesterday that Collins was suffering from cancer. “He spent his last days in peace, with his family by his side. Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this final challenge in the same way ”, detailed the communication, published on Twitter. “We are going to miss him very much. However, we also know how lucky Mike felt to have had the life he did, ”said his family.
There are few things more fragile or more beautiful than the Earth, let’s work together today and every day to protect our home
Collins was born on October 31, 1930, in Rome, the son of the American military attaché there. Collins, whose wife of 57 years, Patricia, died in 2014, is survived by three children.
“I’m sure if everyone could see the Earth floating right outside their windows, every day it would be #EarthDay (Earth Day)Collins wrote in a tweet on April 22.
“There are few things more fragile or more beautiful than Earth, let’s work together today and every day to protect our home,” said the astronaut.