CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – Astronaut Michael Collins, 90, has lost his battle with cancer.
A statement, released by his family says:
We regret to share that our beloved father and grandfather passed away today, after a valiant battle with cancer. He spent his final days peacefully, with his family by his side. Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way. We will miss him terribly. Yet we also know how lucky Mike felt to have lived the life he did. We will honor his wish for us to celebrate, not mourn, that life. 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.
Our family asks for privacy during this difficult time. Details on services will be forthcoming.
Collins orbited the Moon for 21 hours alone while Niel Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to step foot on the Moon.
When Collins was on the back side of the Moon, he lost communications and some have called him “the loneliest man in humanity”, but Collins didn’t see it the same way.
“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.” Collins said in a 2016 interview.
Collins graduated West Point, went into the Air Force and became a test pilot. NASA came calling in 1963.
NASA said in a statement about Collins' passing;
“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.”