BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – After spending a great amount of time at Kennedy Space Center, community members and NASA workers gathered at the U.S. Astronauts Hall of Fame at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to honor Michael Collins.
What You Need To Know
- Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins died at the age of 90
- A ceremony was held in his honor at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
- NASA workers, community members gathered outside the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame
The ceremony took place Friday outside of the center where Major General Collins was inducted in 1993 alongside fellow Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.
Former astronaut and current director of Kennedy Space Center Robert Cabana fondly recalled his time spent with the Gemini 10 astronaut. He said Collins was soft-spoken, but a very genuine soul with a good sense of humor.
“He always got asked, what did you think about being up there alone while Neil and Buzz were down on the surface of the Moon? Was it lonely? And he’d said, ‘Heck no! I really enjoyed having more time to myself up there and having a little room to move around while (I) was up on that capsule and while those guys were down on the surface of the Moon,’” Cabana said.
After Collins died on Wednesday at age 90, he was honored by many who were inspired by him and others who were lucky enough to call him a friend.
Roy Tharpe, a member of the Apollo team, said Collins was wonderfully unwavering.
“He was a very jovial, very kind person and you just knew that he was that way then and he was that way in 1969. So, he was a great guy,” Tharpe said.
Sporting his Apollo 11 50th anniversary shirt, Tharpe noted that many people unfortunately misunderstand the significance of Collins’ role in that mission and consider him to be the one left behind.
But he said that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“He had flown previously on Gemini and that is one of the qualifications to be a command module pilot,” Tharpe said. “A lot of people didn’t think about the job and how important that was, but he understood the gravity of what would happen if Neil and Buzz didn’t come back.”
“And so, when you put that in perspective he was the guy that Deke Slayton, who was selecting the astronauts for the missions at that time, he knew (Collins) was the right man for the right job,” Tharpe added.
A wreath was placed outside of the Hall of Fame to honor Collins and to encourage visitors to take some extra time to learn more about him.