Apollo 11’s “Forgotten Astronaut” Dead at 90

By НАСА - http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/apollo/apollo11/hires/s69_40308.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=94287471

The only Apollo 11 astronaut to not set foot on the moon has died after battling cancer at the age of 90.

Michael Collins was famously known as “the loneliest man in humanity” when he stayed behind to pilot the command module during the 22 hours Lance Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent on the moon’s surface. Collins earned the moniker when he lost contact with mission control while orbiting around the dark side of the moon. 

“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, “he said in 2016.

Though Collins is often the “forgotten astronaut” of the mission, because he didn’t participate in the moonwalk, he was the most integral figure in the mission.  

“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 space historian Francis French. “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.”

Collins took two trips to space, first on Gemini 10 in 1966, where he became the fourth person to perform a spacewalk, then during 1969’s Apollo 11 mission, where he became the second person to ever orbit the moon alone.

Collins and his Apollo 11 crewmates were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969, and he retired from NASA in 1970.  He went on to become the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, the director of the National Air and Space Museum, and eventually the undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution.  

NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said Collins was a “true pioneer” in a statement. “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.”

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Bud
Bud
11 days ago

Got your Armstrongs mixed up Neil is the astronaut Lance is a bicyclist.

M Zulisky
M Zulisky
11 days ago
Reply to  Bud

So much for accuracy in journalism.

TJ C
TJ C
11 days ago
Reply to  Bud

Correct. It was Neil Armstrong, not the “deceiver” Lance Armstrong.

Blythe
Blythe
11 days ago
Reply to  Bud

LOL

Brett
Brett
11 days ago

I did not know Lance was riding a bike on the moon

Nancy
Nancy
11 days ago

Good article except for one error. Lance Armstrong was a bicycle racer. Neil Armstrong was the Apollo 11 astronaut who was the first to set foot on the moon.

Greg Torchia
Greg Torchia
11 days ago

A real American Hero ,,gone but not forgotten

JonlyBonly
JonlyBonly
11 days ago

Lance Armstrong needed all the steroids so that he could go to the moon.

Larry E. Dull
Larry E. Dull
11 days ago

I am shocked and appalled that the writer of this column is so ignorant of history that he confuses the Cyclist Lance Armstrong with the Astronaut Neal Armstrong. Journalism these days is filled with such blatant errors!. Misinformation, poor spelling and bad taste are rampant these days!

Displayguy
Displayguy
11 days ago
Reply to  Larry E. Dull

As someone else said here,, there are no journalists any more.

William
William
11 days ago

Lance ? Good grief

MikeC711
MikeC711
11 days ago

It is reported (I have not verified it) that when Neil Armstrong was pondering what to say when he did that walk on the moon (“One small step for man yada yada”) … Michael Collins recommended that if he had balls, he would say, “OMG!!! What is that thing??!!” Then scream and cut the microphone. If that is true, Michael Collins is/was my hero

M Schell
M Schell
11 days ago

NASA employee….just another FOS liar.

J Had
J Had
11 days ago

umm, there is no dark side of the moon, ignorant! “far or other side” is correct.

Jim
Jim
11 days ago

So much for spell check. Doesn’t help when you spell the wrong word correctly!

Karen Singleterry
Karen Singleterry
11 days ago

Hmm. Never knew Lance Armstrong went into space! Thought he stuck to bikes!

Marvin Zeichner
Marvin Zeichner
11 days ago

What a bunch of bulls**t we never landed on the Moon.

Laxmom
Laxmom
10 days ago

Yikes! Lance?? He’s the doping pos, not the astronaut.