(CNN) – Astronaut Michael Collins has died of cancer, according to a report released by his family on his verified Twitter account. He is 90 years old.
Known as the “lone man in history”, Michael Collins is best known for operating the Apollo 11 command line, which orbited Neil Armstrong and Bus Aldrin for the first time in 1969 while walking on the lunar surface.
“NASA mourns the loss of this talented pilot and astronaut who is a friend to all who seek to expand human capability,” NASA Executive Officer Steve Zursik said in a statement.
“Whether your work is behind the scenes or on display, your legacy will always be that of one of the leaders who took America’s first steps into the international arena. His spirit will come with us as we go further afield.
Michael Collins was born in 1930 in Italy.
He became an Air Force pilot and later an astronaut on the Gemini program. According to NASA’s autobiography, he was the third American to go into space. NASA says Michael Collins entered 266 hours of space, including the Apollo 11 mission.
“If world political leaders can see their planet from 100,000 miles (160,000 km) away, their perspective will change fundamentally,” Collins tweeted in 2019.