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Interview with Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins

Posted on Tue, September 20, 2016
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At the Museum we’re fortunate to host many of the nation’s aerospace icons. This was certainly the case earlier this year when Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins was on hand for our 2016 John H. Glenn Lecture, Spaceflight: Then, Now, Next.

Marty Kelsey and Beth Wilson, hosts of our STEM in 30 program, sat down with Collins before the lecture to ask him a range of questions from what it was like traveling on the far side of the Moon solo to his interest in the arts. Michael Collins is best known as the command module pilot for the first mission to land men on the Moon, Apollo 11.

In her interview with Collins, Beth learned what it was like alone in the command module Columbia without his cohorts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin—quiet—and what currently fascinates the former astronaut—watercolor painting.

The importance of art in Collins’ life and his interest in STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) is a thread that runs across both interviews. While talking to Marty, however, Collins also revealed how failure has played a part in shaping his future. 

“It ain’t pleasant,” he said about failure.

Collins applied and was rejected from the first class of NASA astronauts. But the young test pilot took the rejection as an opportunity to look at what he was doing and make improvement. His next application was successful and, as they say, the rest is history.