Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins dies at 90

Florida

Astronaut Michael Collins during the JFK Space Summit at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Wednesday, June 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (WFLA) — Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 astronaut who was sometimes referred to as “the loneliest man in history,” has died at the age of 90.

In this July 21, 1969 photo, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage, carrying astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, approaches the Command and Service Modules for docking in lunar orbit. Astronaut Michael Collins remained with the CSM in lunar orbit while the other two crewmen explored the moon’s surface. (Michael Collins/NASA via AP)

Collins’ family posted a statement to his Twitter account on Wednesday announcing the astronaut’s death following a “valiant battle with cancer.”

“He spent his final days peacefully, with his family by his side,” the statement read. “Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way.”

Collins piloted the Apollo 11 command module that landed astronauts on the moon in 1969. NASA’s acting administrator, Steve Jurczyk, honored his role in the mission in a statement, saying, “come 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.”

“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,” Jurcyzk said. “And his spirit will go with us as we venture toward farther horizons.”

Collins was also an Air Force pilot and was part of NASA’s Gemini Program. Jurczyk described him as a “true pioneer,” a “lifelong advocate for exploration” and a “tireless promoter of space.”

“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,” his family wrote in their statement.

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