Astronaut Michael Collins, a member of the Apollo 11 mission that landed on the moon, has died at 90, his family has announced.
Although he never stepped foot on the moon, Collins’ accomplishments were part of one of the most famous space missions in history, according to NBC. As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to step foot on the moon, Collins piloted the command module, circling roughly 60 miles above the lunar surface.
“We regret to share that our beloved father and grandfather passed away today, after a valiant battle with cancer,” Collins’ family said in a statement on Twitter. “He spent his final days peacefully, with his family by his side. Mike always faced the challenge 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.”
Collins was known for his quiet and unassuming nature, and in recent years had become an active voice on social media, where he shared “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,” his family said in the statement.
NASA paid tribute to Collins, highlighting his distinguished career and his work inspiring generations of explorers. “Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins,” acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said in a statement. “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.”
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