I just learned that a childhood hero of mine, Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, has died today of cancer at the age of 90. I remember watching the Apollo 11 moon mission on a black and white television at a friends house when I was 8-years-old, and wondering what would happen to Michael Collins if the Lunar Excursion Module Eagle didn’t make it back to the Command Module Columbia, where Collins was patiently waiting for his crew mates to safely return. Later I read his 1974 memoir, Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys, and was even more impressed with him.
Even though he eventually left NASA and became the Director of the National Air and Space Museum, and later became the Undersecretary of the Smithsonian – he was always quietly competent and didn’t seek the limelight, qualities that I greatly respect.
I last saw him in person at the Newseum in Rosslyn, Virginia, during the taping of the 30th anniversary special that was hosted there. The video from that event is below.
I had always hoped to see him one last time – which sadly was not meant to be.
Godspeed, Michael Collins.