(Maj Gen, USAF, Ret.)
(1930 – )
Missions: Gemini 10, Apollo 11
Time in Space: 266 hours, 4 minutes
NASA astronaut Michael Collins was born on October 31, 1930 in Rome, Italy. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, joining the United States Air Force upon his graduation in 1952. From 1959 to 1963, Collins served as a test pilot for the Aerospace Research Pilot School in California.
Collins began his career with NASA in October 1963 when he selected to join the third group of astronauts. He flew two space missions: as Pilot for Gemini 10 in July 1966—during which he set a world altitude record—and as Command Module Pilot for Apollo 11 in July 1969, during which Collins remained in lunar orbit while his crewmates took their historic walk on the Moon. President Richard Nixon awarded him and his Apollo 11 crewmates the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon their return. In total, he logged 266 hours and four minutes in space, of which one hour and 27 minutes were spent in extravehicular activity.
Collins left NASA in 1970 to take the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. In 1971, he joined the Smithsonian Institution, serving as Director of the National Air and Space Museum and Under Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He left the Smithsonian in 1980, becoming Vice President of the LTV Aerospace and Defense Company before starting his own consulting firm in 1985.