US astronaut Michael Collins, a member of Apollo 11, the first manned mission to the moon, died of cancer on Wednesday at the age of 90, his family said in a statement.
A command and service module pilot, he had remained in orbit while fellow missionaries Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon.
In its statement, the astronaut’s family wishes to remember “his quick wit, his quiet sense of duty, and his wisdom gaze gained by looking to Earth from space, and observing the calm waters. from his fishing boat “.
Despite his great age, Michael Collins remained in recent years the most active of the veterans of Apollo, and the most poetic when he recalled his memories of the Moon.
“When we left and saw it, oh, what an imposing sphere,” he recounted in 2019 in Washington.
“The Sun was behind her, so she was illuminated with a golden circle that made the craters really weird, due to the contrast between the whitest of whites, and the blackest of blacks.”
“As splendid and impressive as it was, it was nothing compared to what we saw through the other window,” he continued. “Over there was that thumb-sized pea at the end of your arm, a beautiful little thing nestled in the black velvet of the rest of the universe.”
“I said to the control center: + Houston, I see the world in my window +”.
Born October 31, 1930 in Rome to a diplomatic father, Michael Collins became a test pilot for the US Army.
In the 1960s, he accumulated many hours of flight in space, especially during Gemini missions.
The only member of the Apollo 11 crew not to have walked on the Earth satellite, he says he did not retain any bitterness.
Like Aldrin and Armstrong, Collins quickly left NASA after the triumphant return to Earth and pursued a rich public career.
He was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs by President Richard Nixon, then directed the construction of the Washington Air Museum, assuming the presidency (1971-1978).
He then became a consultant and wrote books related to space adventure.