NASA Remembers Astronaut Michael Collins 1930-2021
The following is a statement from NASA Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer:
“On behalf of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, I wish to offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Michael Collins. Our nation has lost a pioneer who contributed immensely to human spaceflight and inspired so many around the world when he flew on the Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 missions,” Geyer said.
“Johnson Space Center was honored by his presence most recently in 2019 when he joined our employees to celebrate 50 years after splashing down from the Apollo 11 mission,” Geyer added. “Mike spoke about his experience during Apollo in a discussion of NASA’s past and future and shared lessons learned from his missions. I also remember that during this event he took the time to thank the workforce for their efforts in making human spaceflight possible.
“Mike said he primarily remembered not having time to relax and enjoy the view on board for long, but in the moments when he did look out his window at the Earth, he realized how delicate it was. ‘It had an air of fragility, like something that is easily broken,’ he said. ‘It was an amazing spectacle—the blue ocean, white clouds and smears of rust that we call continents.’
“Many people here at JSC will remember his wit, humor and their interactions with him with both admiration and affection.
“While we have lost an American hero, we know Mike’s legacy and pioneering spirit will live on through the work we carry out each day as we continue to advance human space exploration and push forward to the Moon with our Artemis program.”
The following is a statement from acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk on the passing of Michael Collins:
“Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins. As pilot of the Apollo 11 command module – some called him ‘the loneliest man in history’ – while his colleagues walked on the Moon for the first time, he helped our nation achieve a defining milestone. He also distinguished himself in the Gemini Program and as an Air Force pilot.
“Michael remained a tireless promoter of space. ‘Exploration is not a choice, really, it’s an imperative,’ he said. Intensely thoughtful about his experience in orbit, he added, ‘What would be worth recording is what kind of civilization we Earthlings created and whether or not we ventured out into other parts of the galaxy.’
“His own signature accomplishments, his writings about his experiences, and his leadership of the National Air and Space Museum helped gain wide exposure for the work of all the men and women who have helped our nation push itself to greatness in aviation and space. There is no doubt he inspired a new generation of scientists, engineers, test pilots, and astronauts.
“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.”
The following is a statement from the Collins family:
“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.”
For more information about Collins and his NASA career, click here.