Michael Collins, an astronaut who in 1969 was a part of the mission that brought humans to the moon for the first time has died, according to a statement from his family. He was 90.
According to the statement, Collins died Wednesday after a “valiant battle with cancer.”
Collins was one of three astronauts who manned the Apollo 11 mission — the first mission to take men to the moon. While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the surface of the moon, Collins remained in the Columbia command module and piloted the capsule in orbit, waiting for his partners to return.
Collins’ role in the Apollo 11 mission was essential. His flight expertise allowed him to conduct several key docking maneuvers that helped the crew land on the moon and safely return.
While Collins never got to walk on the moon, he always maintained a good sense of humor about his place in history.
“I had this beautiful little domain,” Collins told the New York Times in 2019 of his time alone during Apollo 11. “It was all mine. I was the emperor, the captain of it, and it was quite commodious. I had warm coffee, even.”
According to NASA, Collins logged a total of 266 hours in space.
“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,” the family statement read. “…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.”
Family Statement on Passing of Astronaut Michael Collins pic.twitter.com/6OAw7CzFaz— Michael Collins (@AstroMCollins) April 28, 2021