Major General Michael Collins (born October 31, 1930) is a former American astronaut and test pilot. Selected as part of the third group of fourteen astronauts in 1963, he flew in space twice. His first spaceflight was Gemini 10, when he and command pilot John W. Young performed two rendezvous with different spacecraft and Collins undertook two EVAs. His second spaceflight was Apollo 11 where he served as the command module pilot. While he orbited the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin performed the first manned landing on the lunar surface.
Prior to becoming an astronaut, he had attended the United States Military Academy, and from there he joined the United States Air Force and flew F-86s at Chambley-Bussieres Air Base, France. He was accepted to the USAF Experimental Flight Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in 1960. He unsuccessfully applied for the second astronaut group but was accepted for the third group.
After retiring from NASA in 1970 he took a job in the Department of State as Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. A year later he became the first director of the National Air and Space Museum. He held this position until 1978 when he stepped down to become undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1980 he took the job as Vice President of LTV Aerospace. He resigned in 1985 to start his own business.
He is married to Patricia, and they have three children: Kate, Ann and Michael, Jr. Kate is an actress, and is best-known for her role as Natalie Marlowe Dillon in the long-running daytime television drama All My Children
Michael Collins was born in Rome, Italy on October 31, 1930. His father, United States Army Major General James Lawton Collins, served in the army for 38 years, and during the 17 years in which Michael Collins lived at home, he would call Rome, Oklahoma, Governors Island, Puerto Rico (their house was reputed to be the second oldest in the Western Hemisphere) and Alexandria, Virginia home. He took his first ride in a plane in Puerto Rico aboard a Grumman Widgeon. His father would often tell of how his first plane ride had in been in 1911 with Frank Lahm in the Philippines.
After the United States entered World War II, the family moved to Washington, D.C. where Collins attended St. Albans School. His mother wanted him to enter into the diplomatic service, but he decided to follow his father, two uncles, brother and cousin into the armed services, and so went to the United States Military Academy, which also had the advantage of being free. He finished 185th out 527 cadets in the same class as Ed White. His decision to join the United States Air Force for his active service was based on both the wonder of what the next fifty years may bring in aeronautics, and also to avoid any accusations of nepotism if he joined the army where, among other things, his uncle, J. Lawton Collins, was the Chief of Staff of the United States Army.
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