KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – NASA astronaut Michael Collins, who orbited the moon alone while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic first steps on the lunar surface, was honored Friday with a remembrance ceremony at Kennedy Space Center’s Visitor Complex.
The astronaut died of cancer Wednesday in Naples. He was 90.
The ceremony, meant to honor his life and legacy, was held at 10 a.m. on Friday outside Heroes & Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
According to the space center, Collins joined NASA as part of the third group of astronauts in 1963. He went on to fly on two missions, Gemini X in 1966 and the famous Apollo 11 in 1969. During Gemini X, Collins became the first person to perform two spacewalks. Collins also served as the Command Module Pilot on Apollo 11.
“Michael Collins was a legend of the Gemini and Apollo space programs,” Therrin Protze, Chief Operating Officer of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex said. “A human space exploration champion, and most importantly, a father and family was the most important thing to his life, his kid just called him dad — to us he was a legend.”
While he didn’t land on the moon with fellow astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, Collins played a critical role in making sure the crew returned home safely by performing the final re-docking with the Lunar Module, nicknamed “Eagle,” after Aldrin and Armstrong ascended from the lunar surface.
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