Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins (opens in new tab) lived an incredibly colorful and adventurous life; from his birth in Rome to his early work in NASA's Gemini program and his pivotal, historic flight around the moon.
Collins died at age 90 (opens in new tab) after a long battle with cancer, his family and NASA reported Wednesday (April 28). The astronaut began his career in the Air Force after graduating from West Point. He went on to serve as an experimental test flight officer with the Air Force, logging 5,000 hours of flying time. An accomplished pilot, he was selected as one of NASA's third group of astronauts in 1963 and served as a backup pilot for the Gemini 7 mission as part of the agency's Gemini program.
He served as a pilot for Gemini 10 (opens in new tab) in 1966 before being chosen as the command module pilot for Apollo 11 (opens in new tab), the first lunar landing mission in history. While he did not walk on the moon with Apollo 11, Collins safely flew the crew to, around and back from the moon, safely rendezvousing with the two moonwalkers Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
As people from around the world mourn his death and celebrate his life (opens in new tab), we reflect on Collins' life through the photographs he took and the images of him through the years, from his days with Gemini to Apollo 11 and more.
Astronaut Michael Collins checks out a camera before launching with Gemini 10.
Astronaut Michael Collins is in a spacesuit inside of a spacecraft during NASA's Gemini 10 mission.
Astronaut Michael Collins conducts a water egress training activity for NASA's Gemini 10 spaceflight.
Astronauts Michael Collins (left) and John W. Young (right) on board NASA's Motor Retriever during a water egress training activity.
Astronauts Michael Collins (left) and John W. Young (right) suit up during the countdown for NASA's Gemini 10 spaceflight.
The crew for NASA's Gemini 10 mission, astronauts Michael Collins (foreground) and John W. Young (background) suit up for launch.
The Gemini 10 crew, Astronauts John W. Young (left) and Michael Collins (right), enjoy breakfast before launch.
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In this image, Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins captured the Earth with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in the lunar module (opens in new tab). Collins snapped this photo as the Apollo 11 lunar module "Eagle" was returning to the command module, on July 21, 1969.
Astronaut Michael Collins wears his spacesuit during a final communications system check before boarding the Apollo 11 mission, on July 16, 1969.
Astronaut Michael Collins seems to be talking about his spacesuit glove with NASA technician Joe Schmitt before the Apollo 11 launch.
Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong (opens in new tab) (right) waves on the way to launch with fellow crew member Michael Collins (left).
Astronaut Michael Collins is pictured inside a mockup Apollo command module before the Apollo 11 flight.
The Apollo 11 crew smiles in quarantine after their mission. From the left, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin (opens in new tab).
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The Apollo 11 crew meets President Barack Obama. From the left, astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong.
Astronaut Michael Collins (right) and NASA Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana (left) shake hands at Launch Complex 39A on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, on July 16, 2019.
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Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined Space.com in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.