American astronaut Michael Collins, third man on the historic Apollo 11 mission, dies

The third man. This, of course, is the title of the famous Carol Reed movie. It was also, arguably, the expression American astronaut Michael Collins, who died of cancer on April 28 at the age of 90, heard most of himself. Third man on the historic Apollo 11 mission, during which his comrades Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin traveled to the Moon in July 1969. The first two in the story were them. He, who remained in orbit at the console, had to content himself with contemplating our satellite from above, which had never set foot.

Michael Collins was born on October 31, 1930 in Rome where his father, General James Collins, was a military attaché at the US Embassy, ​​and followed the classic path of most NASA astronauts at the time. Initially an Army pilot, he became a test pilot in 1960. He applied for the first time, unsuccessfully, to join the Astronaut Corps and was accepted on his second attempt in 1963.

Read also American astronaut Michael Collins, “the third man”, died on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969

The only man in the world

Sure, the United States has already embarked on the Apollo program, but above all, they are learning manned flights in order to prepare for lunar adventures. The goal of the Gemini program is to train in the precise maneuvers of meeting in space and docking between two ships, in anticipation of the delicate moment when the lunar module, LEM, rises and clings to the command module, before the assembled crew heads back to Earth. In July 1966, Michael Collins, along with John Young, participated in the Gemini-10 mission in which he became the first man to perform two spacewalks during the same flight.

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The next step, of course, is the Apollo program. On July 16, 1969, a massive Saturn 5 missile tore through Florida soil on the Apollo 11 mission. Three days later, the LEM separated and carried the Armstrong-Aldrin duo to their historic destiny. Avant même de savoir si ses deux compagnons se sont bien poses sur le sol lunaire, Michael Collins, dans le module de commande, passe de l’autre cote de la Lune et ne reçoit plus aucune information, devenant ainsi l’homme le plus seul In the world.

When, in 2019, marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the former astronaut gave permission The New York Times His memories of that moment are almost spoiled: “I had this lovely little estate”, He talks about his ship. “I was the emperor and the captain and it was so relaxing. I even had a hot coffee.” However, at Carry the fireThe story of his adventure, which he published in 1974, the story is more dangerous: “I am now lonely, truly lonely, and completely cut off from all known life.” In a popular photo he later takes, we see the LEM in the foreground, his mates back, and the Earth in the background. All humanity except in the picture.

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Stan Shaw

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