Michael Collins


Born: October 31, 1930 in Rome, Italy
Died: April 28, 2021
Nationality: American
Joined NASA: October 17, 1963
Left NASA: 1970
Space Flights: 2
Time in Space: 11.09 days
Number of EVAs: 3
Total EVA Time: 1.50 hours


Gemini 7
Assignment: Backup Crew

Gemini 10
Assignment: Prime Crew
Flight Duration: 2.95 days

Apollo 205
Assignment: Proposed Backup Crew (mission cancelled)

Apollo 503
Assignment: Proposed Prime Crew (mission cancelled)

Apollo 8
Assignment: Capcom

Apollo 11
July 16 – 24, 1969
Assignment: Prime Crew
Flight Duration: 8.14 days


Collins received a Bachelor of Science degree from the U. S. Military Academy in 1952 and attended an Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 1974. After West Point, Collins chose an Air Force career. He eventually got into test pilot school and became an experimental flight test officer at the Air Force Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California.

NASA selected Collins as an astronaut in 1963. As pilot of the three-day Gemini 10 mission, launched July 18, 1966, he and commander John Young docked with an Agena target vehicle and used the Agena engine to maneuver near another Agena left in space by the Gemini 8 crew. Collins stepped outside and, using a gas gun he moved over to the second Agena and recovered a micrometeorite detection device attached to its side. After medical problems resulted in his loosing his seat on the Apollo 8 lunar orbit mission, he was assigned to Apollo 11 as command module pilot. While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their historic first walk on the lunar surface in July 1969, Collins flew a “lonely lifeguard” assignment for more than 24 hours, waiting for them to launch their lunar craft and rejoin him in lunar orbit.

He retired from the Air Force as a major general and left NASA in 1970. He served briefly as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and then in 1971 to 1978 was the first Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. He has written several books about space, including “Carrying the Fire”, “Liftoff”, and “Space Machine”.


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