Michael Collins is declared to have suffered the heftiest loneliness ever in history. When the famous Apollo 11, descending from Colombia touched down on the lunar surface, on July 20, 1969, colonel Michael Collins remained in the Command Module and orbited several times above the lunar surface. His colleagues Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were lucky enough to make the first lunar landing in history. Michael Collins withstood loneliness in the next 22 hours while Armstrong and Aldrin spent their time on the moon. Collins had also lost contact with his crewmates and with NASA, his line of communication blocked as he flew over the moon’s far side. He suffered complete loneliness at that point. No one in the world might have ever suffered that. “I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life” he wrote in his 1974 memoir, “Carrying the fire”.
Collins was inquisitive in writing. He had a gift for writing about space and his remarkable yet unique experiences. Apart from “Carrying the Fire”, he was an author of ” Liftoff: The Story of America’s Adventure”(1988) and “Mission to Mars”(1990). Collins also admired the wonder and beauty of space. Even though he orbited above the elegant moon, he was mesmerised and fascinated by Mars.
Collins began flying in 1952, and has orbited the Earth 43 times in the Gemini 10 Capsule. It was Michael Collins who operated the most critical mission of Apollo 11. He was responsible for the safety and protection of his colleagues, Armstrong and Aldrin. Collins was the smartest of them all for he knew to fly the Apollo 11 Capsule, alone. Collins went on with orbiting the moon until July 21, when Armstrong and Aldrin joined him. They safely landed in the Pacific Ocean on July 24. Collin, Armstrong and Aldrin were awarded the Presidential medal of freedom by Richard Nixon.
While Michael Collins stayed behind, Aldrin and Armstrong made their historic first steps and became the first humans to walk on the moon. Because of which Collins is often called the “Forgotten Astronaut”. While everyone praised Neil Armstrong for making his first step on the lunar surface, Collins was the actual Guardian Angel because of which the historic incident successfully occurred. “He might not have received equal glory as others, but he was an equal partner, reminding our nation about the importance of collaboration in service of great goals. He reminded us of the fragility of our own planet and told us to care for it like the treasure it is” said, President Biden.
After retiring from NASA in 1970, he served in the US State Department. After a year, he became the director of the National Air and Space Museum. Later he stepped down and became the secretary of Smithsonian Institution. Even after that, he proceeded with active beneficial works.
Michael Collins passed away on April 28, 2021at the age of ninety. It is said that he died from cancer in Naples, Florida. Thereupon Collin’s death, NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said “NASA mourns the loss of this accomplished pilot and astronaut, a friend of all who seeks to push the envelope of human potential”. Michael Collins is a remarkable soul to be remembered forever. His spirit will go with us. And the legacy he left behind will be learned.