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Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins dies aged 90
28 April 2021, 17:45 | Updated: 28 April 2021, 18:13
Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, who orbited the moon during the first landing on the surface, has died aged 90.
Mr Collins had been battling with cancer in his final days, his family said in a statement.
"He spent his final days peacefully, with his family by his side," they said.
"Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge in the same way."
NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said: "NASA mourns the loss of this accomplished pilot and astronaut, a friend of all who seek to push the envelope of human potential.
"Whether his work was behind the scenes or on full view, his legacy will always be as one of the leaders who took America's first steps into the cosmos. And his spirit will go with us as we venture toward farther horizons."
Mr Collins was born in 1930 in Rome, Italy, where his father was serving as a major general in the US Army.
He later graduated from the the Military Academy at West Point and became a test pilot for the Air Force.
In 1963 he was picked as a NASA astronaut and conducted his first flight onboard the Gemini 10. He became the fourth ever human being to go on a spacewalk during that flight.
He was one of three men aboard the Apollo 11 on the first manned trip to the moon in 1969.
While his fellow astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, walked on the lunar surface, Collins flew the craft which would bring them safely home.
Apollo 11 was his final journey into space.
"As an astronaut I always thought I had the best job in the world and I still think that," he said, "but for me when it was over it was over."
When asked what he thought when he looked up at the moon he said he'd think: "'Oh my God! I've been there!' I was up there, you see. Kind of takes me by surprise despite all these years."
More to follow....