STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS & USED WITH PERMISSION
NASA astronaut Michael Collins inside an Apollo command module simulator. Credit: NASA
Michael Collins, the man who stayed behind aboard the Apollo 11 command module while crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the moon and walked into history, has passed away after a battle with cancer, his family announced Wednesday. He was 90.
“Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way,” his family tweeted. “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.”
One of the most articulate astronauts to emerge in the early days of America’s space program, Collins orbited the moon alone on July 20, 1969, when Armstrong and Aldrin touched down on the Sea of Tranquility, the first humans to set foot on another world.
Collins was very candid about the technical challenges the crew faced, saying their lives depended on a long “daisy chain” of events that all had to work perfectly for the astronauts to make it ...