This powerful image has not been repeated in 50 years, although we hope that this situation may change soon. It is a photograph where all Humanity is portrayed, except the author of the photo.
The astronaut Michael Collins passed away on April 28, at the age of 90. His death has hardly had an impact outside of the American press, beyond the mainstream news. Nothing to do with the death of his partner Neil Armstrong, the first human being to set foot on the Moon.
Michael Collins was the third astronaut of the mythical Apollo 11 mission, along with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, and the only one who did not land on the Moon. A relative importance, considering that it orbited it just a few kilometers away, and thanks to that it captured the spectacular photograph that you can see in the cover image.
In it you can see the Moon in the foreground, the Earth in the background, and the Eagle module that transported Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin just after stepping on the Moon, with the aim of returning home.
On the Apollo 11 mission, the Eagle module was the one that landed on the Moon. But someone had to stay in the Columbia command module, to coordinate the mission and ensure that the astronauts could be picked up to return to Earth. That task fell to Michael Collins.
While his companions made history by stepping on our satellite for the first time, Collins circled the moon 31 times on the Columbia. In those 21 hours of waiting he had time to take a good handful of photographs, including the most famous, which you can see at the beginning of the news.
The press of the time baptized Collins with the nickname of The Loneliest Man on Earth, because he couldn’t even hear Neil Armstrong deliver his famous speech: “A small step for man, but a great leap for Humanity“.
At that time he was on the Hidden Side of the Moon, and all communications were cut off. Humanity watched in amazement the first steps of the astronauts on the satellite, while Collins, who was a few hundred kilometers away, he did not know if his companions were safe and sound.
Upon his return to Earth, Michael Collins enjoyed his days of fame, but soon retired from NASA in 1970. He was director of the National Air and Space Museum and the Smithsonian, and later worked as an aerospace consultant and writer.
Here we can see Michael Collins in his official photo of the Apollo 11 mission. On the right we have Buzz Aldrin, Collins, and Neil Armstrong in 2009, along with Barack Obama, to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the trip to the Moon.
One of the greatest heroes of Humanity (you had to be to travel to the Moon 50 years ago), abandons us. Now only Buzz Aldrin remains, who is currently 91 years old.
Will we soon repeat that mythical Trip to the Moon from 50 years ago, by the hand of SpaceX?