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Michael Collins, Apollo 11 Astronaut, Dies At 90

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And let's take a moment now to remember Michael Collins, the third astronaut on one of the most famous space missions in history.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Six, five, four, three, two, one, zero, lift off. We have a liftoff.

WALTER CRONKITE: What a moment - man on the way to the moon.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In July 1969, Collins joined Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NEIL ARMSTRONG: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

INSKEEP: Collins himself never actually set foot on the moon. Think of him as the guy who was driving the getaway car. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took a lunar lander down to the surface, stepped down the ladder and onto the moon. Collins was orbiting above, piloting the command module.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MICHAEL COLLINS: Everything looks OK up here.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Roger out.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

COLLINS: The thing I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance - tiny, very shiny, blue and white, bright, beautiful, serene and fragile.

MARTIN: This is Collins from an interview with NPR in 2016.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

COLLINS: It was a chapter in my life, the shiniest, best chapter in my life, but not the only one.

INSKEEP: Michael Collins died Wednesday at 90.

(SOUNDBITE OF JUSTIN HURWITZ'S "THE ARMSTRONGS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.