One of NASA’s first lunar astronauts is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who died at the age of 90 on April 28, 2021, was the first person to fly solo around the Moon on July 20 and 21, 1969, when his teammates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their debut lunar walk on the surface. .
On Monday (January 30), Collins received modified funeral honors, accompanied by a funeral escort from the United States Air Force Guard of Honor and the United States Air Force Ceremonial Brass Band. Collins’ daughter, Kathleen Collins, received the US flag from her father’s memorial service, Arlington officials wrote of the ceremony. (will open in a new tab) on Flickr. (Collins’ wife, 57, née Patricia Finnegan, predeceased him in 2014.)
“During his career, Collins has received numerous awards and honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Arlington officials wrote.
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Coincidentally, Collins’s burial came four days after NASA’s annual Memorial Day for astronauts who lost their lives during spaceflight, which included ceremonies in Arlington on Jan. 2. 26.
Collins, a major general in the US Air Force, joined NASA in 1963 and also participated in the Gemini 10 mission in Earth orbit. Prior to joining the agency, Collins was a fighter pilot and served as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California from 1959 to 1963.
The son of a US Army Major General, Michael Collins was born on October 31, 1930 in Rome, Italy. Collins moved with his family to the United States and after high school attended West Point Military Academy. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1952 and subsequently joined the Air Force.
(Image credit: NASA)
At NASA, Collins performed two spacewalks on Gemini 10 in July 1966, when spacewalks were in their infancy. He was also one of the capcoms (astronaut who communicates with the crew) in mission control during Apollo 8, which was the first human spacecraft to orbit the Moon in December 1968.
Collins spent 21.5 hours alone in the Apollo 11 command module while his teammates were on the surface, including periods when he was cut off from all communications from Earth on the far side of the moon. He later wrote about the experience in his 1974 autobiography Carrying the Fire. (will open in a new tab)“:
“Now I am alone, truly alone and absolutely isolated from any known life. It’s me. [people] plus two on the other side of the moon, and one plus God knows what’s on that side.”
Collins retired from the Air Force and left NASA in 1970. He remained in public service for decades, holding positions such as assistant secretary of state for public affairs, first director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and undersecretary of the Smithsonian.
Elizabeth Howell is co-author of Why Am I Taller? (will open in a new tab)? (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), space medicine book. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace. (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or facebook (will open in a new tab).