As NASA prepares for a return to the moon and looks ahead to a manned flight to Mars, we learned today that 90-year-old Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins died has died after a long battle with cancer.
This leaves Buzz Aldrin, 91, as the only remaining astronaut remaining from the July 1969 flight to the moon. Collins, who piloted the command module in orbit around the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin went to the surface, designed the mission patch that signified the United States went to the moon in peace.
According to Wikipedia, “After retiring from NASA in 1970, Collins took a job in the Department of State as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. A year later, he became the director of the National Air and Space Museum and held this position until 1978, when he stepped down to become undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1980, he took a job as vice president of LTV Aerospace. He resigned in 1985 to start his own consulting firm. Along with his Apollo 11 crewmates, Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2011.”
To those of us who watched Apollo 11 TV coverage on TV from beginning to end, those moments of history don’t seem so far away. So it seems also that Michael Collins is gone too soon, flying now amongst the far stars where no one except his fellow astronauts has gone before.