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Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins has passed away at 90

R.I.P. Michael Collins, the astronaut on Apollo 11 who stayed in lunar orbit while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon, passed away today at the age of 90.

Collins was one of the most friendly and personable astronauts I ever met. He was always available and willing to answer questions, sometimes even willing to go an extra mile to provide you more than you asked for.

In many ways his later work as head of the Air & Space Museum was more important than his time as an astronaut. He helped make that museum and the history it documents one of the most popular in the world.

As long as humanity exists, on Earth and in space, Michael Collins will never be forgotten.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

9 comments

  • eddie willers

    Though he did much more, Milton’s line seems apropos:

    They also serve who only stand and wait.

    RIP

  • Lee Stevenson

    RIP to a great Man, I find it hard to comprehend how it must have felt to alone like no other human had ever been. A true hero. On a kinda related note… The Apollo astronauts seem to have ended up being kinda long lived…. Having travelled thru the van Allen belts… Perhaps “space” radiation is not the threat it is sometimes played up to be?

  • Doubting Thomas

    God Bless you General Collins. The years fly by, I was a boy in high school when you orbited the moon. Thank you for your courage and your service to our Air Force, NASA, the State Department and especially the Air & Space Museum.

    The ranks of the astronauts who went to the moon, much less walked on it, are dwindling fast. I’m rooting for Elon to get us back there so that there will never again be a shortage of people who have walked on the moon.

  • Chris Lopes

    His book (Carrying The Fire) is the best astronaut memoir I’ve ever read. Another hero from my childhood is gone. He will be missed.

    I agree that Elon and others are in the process of making the accomplishments of men like Collins a bit less rare. If all goes well, we may yet see the future in space we dreamed of as Collins was circling the Moon.

  • commodude

    Robert,

    Shouldn’t it be stayed in Lunar orbit rather than stated?

    RIP to a great pioneer.

    The first thing I remember watching on TV was an Apollo launch.

  • wayne

    eddie–
    A most excellent sentiment!

    I’m going to toss this in here—

    Astronaut Clayton Anderson
    Michael Malice, “Your Welcome” episode 151
    April 22, 2021
    https://youtu.be/i5Pbs9yzCSw
    1:02:54

  • commodude: Yup. Thank you. Fixed.

  • Jeff Wright

    Now, if I had my way-the stump of the LEM should be a dais with three statues upon it…a monitor behind the helmet-glass of the third-the rest of his suit stone.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Lee,

    The trajectories followed by the Apollo missions did not go through the thickest parts of the Van Allen Belts either going or coming back but just their border outskirts. The passages were also quite swift. That said, you are correct that astronauts tend to exceed the life expectancies of average people born in the same year. None has yet made it to a full century, but several have gotten close. We are down to just four of the original dozen Moonwalkers, but the odds look pretty good that they all may still be with us by the time that baton is passed to those arriving there via Starship.

    Of the other dozen men who got to the vicinity of the Moon, but didn’t land, half are still alive including the entire crew of Apollo 8. Tom Stafford of Apollo 10, the non-landing dress rehearsal for Apollo 11, is still with us. So are Fred Haise and Jim Lovell from Apollo 13, which was intended to land but famously did not. Lovell is a double-dipper in this category as he was also on Apollo 8. The only survivor among the six men who stood and waited while their crewmates trod the Moon is Ken Mattingly of Apollo 16.

    Of the 10 surviving Apollo Moon mission veterans, Ken Mattingly is the youngest at 85 and Frank Borman is the eldest at 93, though he is only 11 days older than Jim Lovell who is also now 93.

    Here’s hoping we read no more obituaries from this group before Artemis 3 touches down.

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