Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins has died at the age of 90 after battling cancer, NASA announced.
Collins was the third man on the first lunar landing mission, but unlike Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, he didn’t go on the moon.
He piloted the orbiting command module and became known as the “forgotten astronaut”.
Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said, “Today the nation has lost a true pioneer and lifelong proponent of astronaut Michael Collins exploration. As a pilot of the Apollo 11 command module – some called him ‘the loneliest man in history’ – his went Colleagues next On the moon for the first time, he helped our nation reach a crucial milestone, and distinguished himself in the Gemini program and as an Air Force pilot.
“Michael remained a tireless promoter of space. “Exploration isn’t really a choice, it’s an imperative,” he said. Reflecting deeply on his experiences in orbit, he added, “What it would be worth recording is what kind of civilization we Earthlings have created and whether or not we have ventured into other parts of the galaxy.”
“His own accomplishments, his writings on his experiences, and his running the National Air and Space Museum have contributed to encompass the work of all the men and women who have helped our nation become great in the aerospace industry to make known. He has undoubtedly inspired a new generation of scientists, engineers, test pilots and astronauts.
“NASA mourns this accomplished pilot and astronaut, a friend of everyone trying to push the limits of human potential. Whether his work was behind the scenes or in full view, his legacy will always be one of the leaders who took America’s first steps into the cosmos. And his spirit will go with us as we approach wider horizons. “
The Collins family said he was a very beloved father and grandfather and spoke of his “valiant battle with cancer”.
In a statement released by NASA, they added: “He spent his final days peacefully with his family by his side.
“Mike has always mastered life’s challenges with grace and humility, and met his final challenge in the same way. We will miss him terribly. But we also know how lucky Mike was to have lived the life he was did. We’ll do it. ” honor his wish that we celebrate this life, not mourn.
“Please remember with us lovingly and joyfully his sharp wit, calm sense of intent, and wise perspective, which he gained both by looking back at Earth from space and looking out over calm waters from the deck of his own Fishing boats from has won. “