Farewell to the protagonist behind the lunar mission

Lutfe Ali Mahabbat, Contributing Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Picture: Collected

Picture: Collected

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He was one of the heroes of the lunar mission. He was one of the three American astronauts to conquer the moon, who changed the history of human civilization. The pilot of the expedition, Michael Collins, passed away. Although he did not set foot on the moon, he was the main protagonist and behind-the-scenes hero of the lunar mission.

On July 20, 2019 has been the 50th anniversary of the human foot touch on the moon. On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 began the expedition to the moon with a Saturn 5 rocket. Although there have been multiple successful lunar missions since then, the Apollo 11 mission has taken a permanent seat as one of the milestones of human history and civilization.

July 16, 1969 at 6:45 a.m. local time, three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins, had breakfast. Then wear the astronaut's clothes. He waved his hand towards everyone and slowly entered the rocket. At 9:32 a.m., the engine of NASA's 'Saturn 5' rocket filled with 76 lakh pounds of fuel ignited. Then flew towards space. It took them four days to reach the moon.

US astronaut Neil Armstrong made his first landing on July 20 after orbiting the moon. Then Edwin Aldrin. Pilot Michael Collins was controlling the spacecraft. He did not land despite the extreme opportunity. Rather, he made the landing of the other two successful and possible.

On their way back, they came back with a bag full of 21 kilograms of moon soil and stones as a sample. It was later learned that NASA had lost the bag. However, it was found in 2013. The rocket that hit Apollo 11 had a height of 364 feet. The weight was 2 lakh 39 thousand 725 kilograms. The Apollo 11 weighed 45,702 kilograms. Launching from Earth and landing on Earth again, this mission took a total of 8 days, 3 hours and 16 minutes to complete.

‘It was a small step for human being, but a huge step forward for human civilization.’ After landing on the moon, Neil Armstrong wanted to convey what remarkable advances in science and technology were made 50 years ago. That event of a successful lunar mission has been affecting human civilization ever since. Huge sums of money were spent on the Apollo program. But that money was not wasted in any way because the beginning of the new journey in the path of science in human life came from that day. Besides, the first step of space conquest was also composed from that expedition.

Among the three successful explorers, Michael Collins was a relatively undiscussed, almost forgotten name. Michael did not land on the moon that day. On the contrary, he spent 8 hours for 7 days in a row sitting on the moon orbiter. Without him, the first expedition of human civilization might have been incomplete.

The legendary astronaut passed away on April 26. He was 90 years old. He was suffering from incurable cancer for a long time. Although he conquered the moon, he could not defeat the deadly disease. Lost became a living chapter of history. His family confirmed the news of his death. Aldrin also paid tribute to his colleague on Twitter. Michael Collins, known as the 'Loneliest Man in History', has reportedly breathed his last at his home in Florida.

Although a US citizen, Collins was born in Rome, Italy. His father was in the U.S. Army. He was working in Italy during the First World War. That's the way Collins grew up in Italy. He spent the first 18 years of his life in various cities in Italy. The United States withdrew troops from Italy just before World War II began. Collins returned to the United States at that time.

He started dreaming of his first flight when he was just 15 years old. He mastered aviation from his father's colleagues. Before leaving Italy, he sat in the pilot's seat of the dual-engine amphibious aircraft Grumman Udgun several times. Collins graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1952 with a degree in military science. Then the pilot's seat was officially inaugurated. He has served in the US military for more than a decade.

NASA began preparations for space exploration in the early sixties. The search for suitable astronauts begins. In the end, NASA selected 31 skilled pilots of the US Air Force. Collins was on that list. There was no lack of courage and interest in his enthusiasm. As a result, he started studying and training anew. This time he sharpened the traditional science. The course of physics and geology lasted for five long years as well as training. He successfully passed every test from difficult to difficult and then got a chance in that historic lunar mission and Apollo-11 spacecraft.

Due to this campaign, he became known as the 'loneliest man in history'. Although Neil and Aldrin landed on the lunar surface, Collins remained on the orbiter. From there he was in charge of module control. However, the task was not very easy. As soon as the dark part of the moon was gone, the connection with the earth would be completely cut off. There would be no opportunity to communicate with Neil Armstrong or Aldrin. He spent hours and hours in the dark just waiting. That is the identity and title that brings the event.

During the Apollo mission, he was also behind the pictures of the Earth taken from space. Sitting on the orbiter, he lens-closed thousands of images of the blue planet and the lunar surface.

More than five decades have passed since that historic lunar mission. Although humans have landed on the moon several times, satellite-conquest has remained elusive since 1972. In 2024, people are going to touch the ground of the moon again. NASA is going to make another history. But before that, Collins, the successful history maker of the lunar mission, left.