Michael Collins, now 78, was picked by NASA to be an astronaut in 1963. His first spaceflight was aboard Gemini 10 with John Young in 1966, and flew again on Apollo 11 in 1969, the first moon landing mission with crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Collins orbited the Moon in the Command Module Columbia while Neil and Buzz went to the surface in the Lunar Module Eagle. After a day on the Moon's Sea of Tranquility. Buzz and Neil rendezvous'ed with Collins and he took them back home to Earth.
Collins graduated from West Point, was a test pilot at Edwards AFB, became an Assistant Secretary of State, was the director of the National Air & Space Museum and attended Harvard Business School. He is also a gourmet cook.
Considered the finest author of the astronaut corps, he eschews ghost writers and overseers, confident of his own literary skills. He has written four books, the critically acclaimed Carrying the Fire, as well as Liftoff, Mission to Mars, and a children's book, Flying to the Moon.
Collins is now happily retired after a stellar careers as test pilot, astronaut, diplomat, author and first director of the most-visited museum in the world. He now fishes, explores and paints the wilderness around his South Florida home. He is still happily married to his wife of over 50 years, Pat. He steadfastly refuses the kind of hectic personal appearance schedule that other astronaut colleagues maintain, preferring to relax on permanent vacation.
Michael Collins' watercolors embrace the things he holds most dear: Landscapes of his Florida Everglades home, and places he has visited on family vacations; the fish and wildlife native to Florida, and airplanes and jets he flew as a test pilot.
Rarely does he paint anything space-related. During his trip to the moon, he saw the colorless, battered surface beneath him, and returned home with a deep appreciation of Earth, its color and wildlife, and its special place in the universe.
Until most recently, he signed his watercolors with a printed, anonymous "M. Collins" preferring not to have his famous signature compete with his work, and raise the price, just because he signed it. He has recently given in to public demand, however. Now if we can just get him to paint space art...
Michael Collins items: