Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins has died at age 90


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His family shared the news Wednesday after his passing on Collins’ Facebook page.

“We regret to share that our beloved father and grandfather passed away today, after a valiant battle with cancer,” the statement read.

“He spent his final days peacefully, with his family by his side. Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way. We will miss him terribly. Yet we also know how lucky Mike felt to have lived the life he did. We will honor his wish for us to celebrate, not mourn, that life. Please join us in fondly and joyfully remembering his sharp wit, his quiet sense of purpose, and his wise perspective, gained both from looking back at Earth from the vantage of space and gazing across calm waters from the deck of his fishing boat. Our family asks for privacy during this difficult time. Details on services will be forthcoming.”

This astronaut portrait of Collins was taken on July 1, 1969, shortly before the Apollo 11 flight.

NASA, where Collins spent seven years of his career as an astronaut, also released a statement about Collins’ passing.

“Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins,” the statement read. “As pilot of the Apollo 11 command module — some called him ‘the loneliest man in history’ — while his colleagues walked on the Moon for the first time, he helped our nation achieve a defining milestone. He also distinguished himself in the Gemini Program and as an Air Force pilot.

“Michael remained a tireless promoter of space. ‘Exploration is not a choice, really, it’s an imperative,’ he said. Intensely thoughtful about his experience in orbit, he added, ‘What would be worth recording is what kind of civilization we Earthlings created and whether or not we ventured out into other parts of the galaxy.’ “

Buzz Aldrin, former NASA astronaut and lunar module pilot of the Apollo 11 mission, shared his sadness at Collins’ passing.

“Dear Mike, Wherever you have been or will be, you will always have the Fire to Carry us deftly to new heights and to the future. We will miss you. May you Rest In Peace. #Apollo11” Aldrin wrote on Facebook.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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