Michael Collins was one of the astronauts that went to the Moon as part of the Apollo 11 crew. Unlike his crew mates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, Micheal Collins did not have a chance to walk on the Moon as his part of this most famous mission was to pilot a command module. To celebrate this renowned astronaut who made space flight history, we will tell how Michael Collin’s astronaut life and career went.
Michael Collins Childhood & Education
A future astronaut was born in Rome in 1930, in a family of a US Army military attache. Traveling from place to place, whenever his father was sent on duty, was as much an integral part of Michael Collins education as his decision to enter the US Military Academy at West Point, from which Michael graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree. On graduating, the future astronaut joined the Air Force, which was a relatively new formation at the time. Eventually, Michael Collins became a test pilot, flying with Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and taking the aircraft to 90,000 feet. But this clearly did not prove sufficing enough, as Michael kept dreaming about going even higher, right to the stars.
Michael Collins’ Career in NASA
Michael Collins first applied to NASA in 1962, inspired by the example of John Glenn, and was selected among 32 other candidates. However, his astronaut application was eventually rejected even though Michael successfully passed all the exams. However, this did not stop an aspiring astronaut, and in 1963, Collins applied again. This time, however, Michael didn’t pass a psychiatric exam. However, Michael persevered with astronaut aspirations — and with a good reason, because by the end of 1963, he finally got accepted to NASA’s Astronaut Group 3.
Soon enough, Michael started training for the Gemini program, which was supposed to test some technological decisions (in particular, a cockpit for two astronaut pilots) for the upcoming Apollo Moon missions. In 1966, Gemini 10 mission conducted by John W. Young made Collins the third person to perform an extravehicular activity, aka EVA. However, as Michael Collins facts go, this would not be his last spacewalk and not his last astronaut experience as soon enough, Michale would be chosen for the most famous Moon-walking mission, Apollo 11.
First Moon Ever: What Was Michael Collins Job on Apollo 11?
In 1969, on July 20, astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first humans to land on the Moon. The crew’s 3rd member waited in the lunar orbit, worrying about his astronaut fellows. So, did Michael Collins Walk on the Moon? No, but his contribution to this mission was equally, if not more, important. Online magazine Orbital Today discussed this mission in greater detail, but we will only give you a quick overview.
Apollo 11 mission launched on July 16, reaching its destination in four days. Armstrong and Aldrin made a landing on the Moon with an Eagle lunar module on July 20, whereas Collins stayed in command with Columbia.
Even though Michael Collins didn’t walk on the Moon, he ensured communication with the ground segment, so without his contribution, Apollo 11 would never have been a success. Besides, of all three astronauts, Collins was the one who took mission preparation with the most seriousness, compiling a 117-page book on all possible emergency scenarios. This is not surprising since, before Apollo 11, Collins had already flown with Apollo 8 mission (also successful), so he perfectly understood the gravity of his task.
So, Collins successfully managed all mission goals. Besides piloting the Columbia command module and ensuring communication with the ground station, he also docked modules and returned the Apollo crew home. On July 24, Apollo 11 landed in the Pacific Ocean. This historic mission lasted for 8 days, 3 hours, and 18 minutes. But how many hours was Michael Collins in the command module on his own? A total of 21, which must have been a stressful experience, worthy of recognition.
Michael Collins Further Life & Hobbies
Today, this astronaut is recognized for writing a most articulate reflection on his Moon-going experience. Michael Collins’ memoirs mention how the astronauts became strongly attached to one another. This happened after a historic flight when all three astronauts when world touring. Collins says that no one partied, and everyone worked hard until their mission was completed.
When Apollo 11 returned, astronaut Collins held a short speech at the Congress joint session, catching the attention of US State Secretary William Rogers. In November 1969, when Rogers asked for an astronaut, he was nominated by President Richard Nixon to be the State Department’s head of public affairs. In 1970, Collins left the NASA astronaut corps and went back to Air Force. Besides his contribution to astronautics, Collins dedicated a lot of free time to painting in watercolors. However, Michael didn’t even sign his paintings for quite a long time, not wishing to affect their value with an astronaut autograph.