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In photos: Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins' space missions

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.

Related: NASA's historic Apollo 11 moon landing in pictures (opens in new tab)

Gemini era

Apollo era

Later life

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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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.