Michael Collins (Astronaut)

Michael Collins (born 31 October 1930 in Rome ) is a former American astronaut. He was pilot of the command module of Apollo 11 and circled in the moon, during the first humans, Neil Armstrong and Edwin " Buzz " Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface.

Career start

Michael Collins was born in Rome, where his father, an army officer James Lawton Collins, was military attaché. He attended St. Albans School in Washington, DC and then studied at the Military Academy at West Point, which he left in 1952.

Collins decided, the United States Air Force to join. After his pilot training, he flew fighter jets on different bases of the U.S. Air Force, among others, from 1954 to 1957 in France. Back in the U.S., he worked as an instructor and in 1960 as a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

First experiences with the space

Collins had applied for the second astronaut group of NASA, but was not accepted. In the next round he participated again and this time was successful. Collins was one of the 14 astronauts who were introduced to the public on 18 October 1963.

In February 1965 he assumed responsibility for specialty " space suits and space outdoor activities ." He was also involved in the selection of the companies that manufactured the spacesuits for NASA. In July 1965 he was assigned as a replacement pilot for the long-term flight of Gemini 7 in December. Collins was the first astronaut of the third group, which was nominated for a space flight, but he did not play.

On January 25, 1966, NASA announced that Michael Collins, the pilot of Gemini 10 would, under the command of John Young. This flight took place from 18 July to 21 July 1966, was the first in which both a coupling and a spacewalk were performed.

In orbit Collins left the spacecraft to photograph the Earth and stars. A second spacewalk, he undertook to of an Agena target satellite, which was for several months in orbit to bring a plate for determination of micrometeoroids activity. Collins was the first astronaut who twice left the spaceship during a space flight, and the first that moved in space from one missile to another.

Use in the Apollo project

On September 29, 1966 Collins was assigned to the backup crew of the second manned Apollo flight, which was to take place in April 1967. Collins was there reserve for Walter Cunningham.

On 22 December 1966 he was nominated as a pilot of an Apollo space ship, under the command of Frank Borman, the new lunar lander should test in an Earth orbit in December 1967. These plans were thwarted by the Apollo 1 disaster in January 1967.

The amount foreseen for December 1967 flight was moved to December 1968. Instead of a test of the lunar module as a direct flight to the moon with Apollo now 8 should be performed, but Collins had mid-1968 retire for health reasons from the team because disc problems had developed in the neck area, which affected his legs. Collins had surgery and had to wear a neck brace for several months. During the flight, but Collins could collaborate from Houston on the flight line as a connecting speaker ( CapCom ).

After his recovery, he was re-nominated late 1968 as a pilot of the Apollo 11 Command Module. Buzz Aldrin, who was supposed to take on this task, instead, was the pilot of the lunar module. Originally this banded Fred Haise moved into the backup crew. Commander of Apollo 11 Neil Armstrong should be. At this time it was not clear whether the first manned lunar landing could be performed with Apollo 11, it was only after the successful flights of Apollo 9 and Apollo 10 states.

Collins also designed the badge mission of Apollo 11, on which an eagle was depicted that lands on the moon. The flight of Apollo 11 took place until July 24, 1969 by July 16. While Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the lunar surface module Eagle and the first people were on the moon, Collins remained alone in orbit.

After the Apollo 11 flight Collins got the offer to be Spare commander of Apollo 14, to enter with the prospect as commander of Apollo 17 even the moon. Collins refused, however.

According to the NASA

Collins left NASA in the following year and worked from June 1970 to April 1971 as Secretary of State for Public Affairs ( Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs ) at the U.S. Department of State.

Then, Collins became the first director of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC His task was to advance the planning and construction of the new museum building. The inauguration took place on 1 July 1976, just before the 200 - year anniversary of the USA. Although the construction period was shorter than planned, it remained lower than the estimated costs.

In 1978, Collins other senior responsibilities within the Smithsonian Institution. In the same year he left the U.S. Air Force with the rank of brigadier general. 1980 to 1985 he worked for LTV Aerospace & Defense, since he runs his own company.

Special & Records

  • First spaceman with two out -board inserts ( Gemini 10)
  • First man, of himself in space from one room to another vehicle moving (Gemini 10)
  • Second man, who was alone in lunar orbit (Apollo 11)


Michael Collins is considered one of relatively few astronauts a member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 ("The Presidential Medal of Freedom" ), the highest civilian award in the United States. The minor planet 6471 Collins was named after him.


The band Jethro Tull devoted Collins and his feelings when circling the moon without his companions the song For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me from the album Benefit.


Michael Collins is the author of several books about space:

  • Carrying the Fire. An Astronaut 's Journeys. With a Foreword by Charles A. Lindbergh. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY 1974, ISBN 0-374-11917-1 ( also: Cooper Square Press, New York, NY 2001, ISBN 0-8154 - 1028- X).
  • Flying to the Moon and Other Strange Places. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY, 1975, ISBN 0-374-32412-3.
  • Liftoff. The Story of America 's Adventure in Space. Grove Press, New York, NY, 1988, ISBN 0-8021-1011-8.
  • Mission to Mars. Grove Weidenfeld, New York, NY, 1990, ISBN 0-8021-1160-2.