Neil Armstrong is known to be the first man to step on the Moon on July 20th, 1969, during NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. Michael Collins was the one allegedly piloting the Command Module Columbia in the lunar orbit for 21 hours, alone, while Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin performed their experiments on the satellite’s surface.
Speaking during the 50th anniversary of the mission, back in 2018, Collins said that John F. Kennedy’s commitment to put a man on the Moon was what made the mission a success.
He said: “When John F. Kennedy made that famous speech – a man on the Moon by the end of the decade – I was struggling with the equations of motion at the test pilot’s school at Edwards Air Force Base. The notion of flying to the Moon was far beyond my ken. Once I did join the space program and became part of Apollo, as the months went by, I thanked John F. Kennedy more and more because the stark simplicity of his mandate was wonderful for us.”
The Crew Members
However, Collins said that the Cold War was not his primary concern during the mission. He was then asked about the bonds he formed throughout the project, to which he answered that it was after the Apollo 11 program that he got to know his teammates properly.
“We formed some very strong bonds, but actually not really during the flight of Apollo 11 or even during the preparatory flight. It was the around-the-world trip that we took after the flight when I came to know Neil better,” Collins explained.
He continued: “During our training, we had not been a backup crew, as most primary crews had been, so we just got to know each other in the six months before the flight – which is a short period of time. Further, we were split by function, Neil and Buzz were primarily off doing lunar module training; I was usually by myself doing command module training.”
So, overall, they were some amiable strangers, as the former astronaut puts it.