Fighter pilot.
Gemini and Apollo astronaut.
Command module pilot for Apollo 11.
Former director of the National Air and Space Museum.

Michael Collins's life and work left an indelible mark on both air and space.

Learn more about Michael Collins

Michael Collins Shares His Memories

What was it like to be in the command module as the Apollo 11 mission blasted into space? What was it like to be the astronaut left behind in the command module when Armstrong and Aldrin descended to the moon?

Michael Collins has shared his memories as a barrier breaking astronaut with the Museum. 


Michael Collins shares more memories

In the Collection

Object Highlight Conserving Michael Collins' Apollo 11 Razor

Going to the moon? Don't forget your razor. 

Michael Collins' Apollo 11 razor is part of the Museum's collection. During examination of the razor, areas of degradation were discovered, combined with evidence of Collins’ use while working and living in the Command Module Columbia during the iconic mission. This presented conservators with a complex ethical dilemma for deciding the best treatment approach: how to arrest degradation while maintaining the historical elements of the artifact.

Discover the story
Checklist, Operations, Apollo 11 Object Sunglasses, Collins, Apollo 11 Object Pressure Suit, G4-C, Collins, Gemini 10, Flown Object Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia Object

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About His Missions

Gemini X

Collins completed two spacewalks during the Gemini X mission, and fifteen science experiments were carried out. 

More about Gemini

Apollo 11

Collins was one of three astronauts to travel to the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission. He was the only astronaut not to land on the Moon, however, the mission would not have been possible without the highly skilled command module pilot. 

More about Apollo 11

Remembering Michael Collins

Michael Collins
Remembering Collins
A Reflection from our Director Browne about Collins
Your Memories of Michael Collins

As an astronaut, Mike had occasion to look out at both the Moon and Earth, and know that all of humankind and all its history was in his forward field of view. As we move on without Mike, better for having known him, the future is in our forward view and it’s our turn to carry the fire. He prepared us well for that noble task—and I hope the world in his window will always remember the name Michael Collins.


I have considered Mike a hero of mine for a long time. I was always captivated by the idea of him orbiting the moon while others landed on it. I’ve used that as inspiration in my life. Whenever something seemed particularly tough, I’d say, well Mike Collins did that, so I can do this. Because of that initial interest, I wanted to know more about his career. And I found out his sense of humor and humanity matched his intelligence and bravery. So many years ago, I picked a hero who lived up to that billing.


His book Carrying the Fire was a great way to knowing him. Thank you Mike for having made the Apollo adventure possibile and having lifted off my spirit as well. A greeting from the land you were born and Godspeed. Luca from Italy.


When I turned 15, Apollo 11 was on its way back to Earth. 50 years later I wrote a letter to Michael Collins thanking him for being the wonderful person that he was. He was always my favorite astronaut and so when the 50th anniversary came around it was such a pleasure to see and hear him speak about this unifying time in human history. When I heard the news of his passing on April 28, I have to admit I was devastated because it was sudden. But when I think of him, I know that the life he lived benefited all of us. Not only through his work and words, but through his character, dignity and humanity. I shall miss him very much and my deepest condolences go out to his family. But I feel that my life was better because we were blessed to have him. As Virgil wrote, “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”


Before COVID, I saw Mike Collins on stage in “The Theatre in the Woods”, talking, reminiscing, taking questions. Self effacing, dry humour, superb answers and observations. Everything that has been written about him was reflected in that brief encounter. He will be sadly missed, but, the dedicated work achieved continues on as the try legacy.


I will remember Michael Collins best for the key role he played in making the current National Air and Space Museum in D.C. a reality. I think he saw the National Air and Space Museum as a museum that could educate and inspire its visitors, and I am personally very grateful to him for his absolutely incredible achievement in that respect....I had the opportunity to work on a few unmanned post-Apollo Lunar missions. When I looked at the Moon as our spacecraft approached it or were in its orbit, I sometimes thought of the brave Apollo astronauts and the thousands of people who made those pioneering Apollo missions possible, but Michael Collins was one of the people I specifically thought of. Michael, there are many people who will never forget you and what you did. Thank you very much, and rest in peace.


He definitely has left a mark on the world. He left behind a great institution. He left an impression on me. I believe he could be the Mister Rogers of astronauts and space explorers. Ad Astra General Collins, or Mike as he introduced himself as.