Michael Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut dead at 90

Washington, United States: American astronaut Michael Collins, who piloted the Apollo 11 command module as his crewmates became the first people to set foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969, died on Wednesday after a battle with cancer, according to his family.

"Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way," Collins' family posted on his official Twitter account.

"Please join us in fondly and joyfully remembering his sharp wit, his quiet sense of purpose, and his wise perspective gained both from looking back at Earth from the vantage of space and gazing across calm waters from the deck of his fishing boat."

They promised that more information about the service will be released soon.

Collins, who was born in Rome in 1930 to a US army officer serving as a military attache there, went on to become an air force fighter pilot and retired with the rank of Major General.

He is best known for his participation in the Apollo 11 mission, during which he and his crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first humans to set foot on the Moon.

Collins went on to say that the experience forever changed his outlook, emphasizing the fragility of our homeworld.

"When we rolled out and looked at (the Moon), oh, it was an awesome sphere," he said at a 2019 event at George Washington University commemorating the 50th anniversary.

But, he added, "as magnificent, as incredible, and as much as I will remember that, that was nothing, nothing compared to this other window out there."

"Out there was this little pea about the size of your thumbnail at arm's length: blue, white, very shiny, you get the blue of the oceans, white of the clouds, streaks of rust we call continents, such a beautiful gorgeous tiny thing, nestled into this black velvet of the rest of the universe."

Collins never returned to space and instead became a diplomat, working as assistant secretary of state for public affairs during the Vietnam War.

He later became the first director of Washington's National Air and Space Museum.

Share this story