From the Earth to the Moon to Heritage Auctions: Astronaut Michael Collins’ Personal Collection Blasts Off June 2-3

Flag flown on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. (Credit: Heritage Auctions)

Highlights include flags, medallions and more from 1969’s historic Apollo 11 lunar landing mission

DALLAS, Texas (Heritage Auctions PR) – In July 1969, 65 miles above the lunar surface, command module pilot Michael Collins orbited the moon alone, at times even losing contact with Mission Control. Meanwhile, below him, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were making headlines the world over for becoming the first men to walk on the moon – or, in Armstrong’s famous words, taking “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

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Safety, Integrity and Accountability in Human Spaceflight

Apollo 1 astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. (Credit: NASA)

Part 1 of 2

Frank Borman only flew to space twice, but both flights were major milestones in the history of human spaceflight. In 1965, he and Jim Lovell flew for nearly 14 days aboard Gemini 7, proving that humans could function for long periods of time in the absence of gravity. Borman, Lovell and Bill Anders orbited the moon on Christmas Eve 1968 aboard Apollo 8 on the first human mission beyond low Earth orbit, an essential step toward the landing of Apollo 11 eight months later.

There was lesser known, but no less vital, mission that Borman undertook that was every bit as essential to the success of Project Apollo. The anniversary of a key event in that mission was earlier this month. Borman, who turned 94 last month, recounted the story in his autobiography, “Countdown.”

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On the last Friday in January 1967, Frank Borman took a break from a punishing schedule of traveling from Houston to Project Apollo contractors in Massachusetts and California to spend some quality time with his family. He took his wife, Susan, and their two sons to a cottage on a lake near Huntsville, Texas, owned by family friends. In the era cell phones, there were only landlines. Since the phone number at the cottage was unlisted, Borman was looking forward to two uninterrupted of relaxation.

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Richard Branson Gets His Astronaut Wings, Aims to Eliminate Asterisk* Next Time

Unity 22 crew: Michael Masucci, Colin Bennett, Richard Branson, Sirisha Bandla, David Mackay and Beth Moses at the 37th Space Symposium. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
  • Billionaire aims to go higher and faster next time
  • Virgin Galactic still can’t get SpaceShipTwo all the way up (to Karman line)
  • FAA throws in the towel on deciding who is and who isn’t an astronaut

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Earlier this month, Richard Branson and two Virgin Galactic employees received commercial astronaut wings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity flight test they took part in last July. The trio was the last group to receive the wings — FAA ended the program last year — and the honors came with a pretty big asterisk.

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Bidding for Blue Origin Seat Reaches $4.8 Million; Live Auction Set for Saturday

New Shepard (NS-14) lifts off from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas. (Credits: Blue Origin)

Bidding for a seat on Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle with Jeff Bezos ended on Thursday with the top bid at $4.8 million.

The auction, which began on May 5, will conclude on Saturday, June 12 with a live bidding session that will be streamed at www.blueorigin.com. The session will start at 1 p.m. EDT/17:00 UTC.

The winner will join Bezos and his brother Mark on New Shepard’s first crewed suborbital on July 20. They will fly on the 52nd anniversary of the first human landing on the moon by NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20, 1969.

The auction winner will undergo three days of training prior to the launch on the fourth day. The flight will take place at Blue Origin’s facility in west Texas.

Proceeds from the auction will go to Blue Origin’s education foundation, Club for the Future. The non-profit organization encourages students to pursue STEM careers and help plan for humanity’s future in space.

Video: NASA Remembers Astronaut Michael Collins

Video Caption: We are heartbroken to share that astronaut Michael Collins, the command module pilot of the historic Apollo 11 mission to the Moon, has passed away at the age of 90.

Collins was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. In 1966, he served as the pilot on the 3-day Gemini 10 mission, during which he set a world altitude record and became the nation’s third spacewalker, completing two extravehicular activities. His second flight was as command module pilot of the historic Apollo 11 mission in July 1969. He remained in lunar orbit while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to walk on the Moon.

Biography of NASA Astronaut Michael Collins

Michael Collins orbited the moon in the command module Columbia during the historic Apollo 11 mission in July 1969. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Former NASA astronaut Michael Collins, who flew on the Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 missions, passed away on April 28, 2021.

“Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins. As pilot of the Apollo 11 command module – some called him ‘the loneliest man in history’ – while his colleagues walked on the Moon for the first time, he helped our nation achieve a defining milestone. He also distinguished himself in the Gemini Program and as an Air Force pilot.

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Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot Michael Collins Passes Away at 90

Michael Collins

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following is a statement from acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk on the passing of Michael Collins:

“Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins. As pilot of the Apollo 11 command module – some called him ‘the loneliest man in history’ – while his colleagues walked on the Moon for the first time, he helped our nation achieve a defining milestone. He also distinguished himself in the Gemini Program and as an Air Force pilot.

“Michael remained a tireless promoter of space. ‘Exploration is not a choice, really, it’s an imperative,’ he said. Intensely thoughtful about his experience in orbit, he added, ‘What would be worth recording is what kind of civilization we Earthlings created and whether or not we ventured out into other parts of the galaxy.’

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NASA Remembers Legendary Flight Director Glynn Lunney

Standing at the flight director’s console, viewing the Gemini-10 flight display in the Mission Control Center on July 18, 1966, are (left to right) William C. Schneider, Mission Director; Glynn Lunney, Prime Flight Director; Christopher C. Kraft Jr., MSC Director of Flight Operations; and Charles W. Mathews, Manager, Gemini Program Office. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Legendary NASA Flight Director Glynn Lunney, 84, died Friday, March 19.

Lunney was a flight director for the Apollo 11 Moon landing mission, and was lead flight director for Apollo 7, the first crewed Apollo flight, and Apollo 10, the dress rehearsal for the first Moon landing, in NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston. He led the mission control team credited with key actions that made it possible to save three Apollo 13 astronauts aboard a spacecraft disabled on the way to the Moon.

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Bill to Protect Lunar Artifacts Signed into Law

A close-up view, taken on Feb. 5, 1971, of the Laser Ranging Retro-Reflector (LR3), which the Apollo 14 astronauts deployed on the Moon during their lunar surface extravehicular activity. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A bill designed to protect artifacts where Apollo astronauts and spacecraft explored the surface of the moon has been signed into law by President Donald Trump.

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Report Recommends Former Spaceport America Executives be Investigated for Possible Criminal Charges

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)
  • Outside investigation concluded former Executive Director Dan Hicks ignored spending regulations, submitted falsified travel documents, and wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary travel and unrealistic projects
  • Hicks portrayed by staff as an incompetent manager who bullied employees
  • Ex-CFO Zach DeGregorio facilitated Hicks’ violations by improperly approving travel and ignoring rules and statutes
  • Former New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board Chairman Rick Holdridge accused of allowing violations to continue

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A highly critical investigation of Spaceport America has determined the New Mexico state government should consider formal criminal and/or administrative charges against former Executive Director Dan Hicks and former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Zach DeGregorio for their mishandling of the spaceport’s finances.

“As detailed above, there is evidence to conclude that Dan Hicks violated criminal and administrative statutes, as well as the State of New Mexico Governmental Compliance Act, and Governor Lujan Grisham’s Code of Conduct, during his tenure as Director of the Spaceport,” the report said.

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NASA’s New Mars Rover Is Ready for Space Lasers

Visible both in the inset photograph on the upper left and near the center of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover in this illustration is the palm-size dome called the Laser Retroreflector Array (LaRA). In the distant future, laser-equipped Mars orbiters could use such a reflector for scientific studies. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Perseverance is one of a few Mars spacecraft carrying laser retroreflectors. The devices could provide new science and safer Mars landings in the future.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — When the Apollo astronauts landed on the Moon, they brought devices with them called retroreflectors, which are essentially small arrays of mirrors. The plan was for scientists on Earth to aim lasers at them and calculate the time it took for the beams to return. This provided exceptionally precise measurements of the Moon’s orbit and shape, including how it changed slightly based on Earth’s gravitational pull.

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Artemis: Back to the Future Past?

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, deploys two components of the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity in 1969. A seismic experiment is in his left hand, and in his right is a laser-reflecting panel. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, mission commander, took this photograph. (Credits: NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center)

UPDATE: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was emphatic today that the first crewed landing and subsequent ones would land at the lunar south pole. He said remarks he made last week were misinterpreted.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For 18 months NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump Administration officials have repeatedly promised to land the next man and the first woman at the south pole of the moon in 2024.

Now, that plan has apparently changed.

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NASA Technology Enables Precision Landing Without a Pilot

The New Shepard (NS) booster lands after this vehicle’s fifth flight during NS-11 May 2, 2019. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Margo Pierce
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate

Some of the most interesting places to study in our solar system are found in the most inhospitable environments – but landing on any planetary body is already a risky proposition. With NASA planning robotic and crewed missions to new locations on the Moon and Mars, avoiding landing on the steep slope of a crater or in a boulder field is critical to helping ensure a safe touch down for surface exploration of other worlds. In order to improve landing safety, NASA is developing and testing a suite of precise landing and hazard-avoidance technologies.

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Buzz Aldrin & Mike Collins Nominated for Emmy Award

The crew of Apollo 11. (Credit: NASA)

Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins have been nominated for an Emmy Award for work they during the first manned lunar landing 51 years ago.

The two surviving crew members were nominated for outstanding cinematography for a nonfiction program relating to CNN’s Apollo 11 documentary. Commander Neil Armstrong has passed away.

“I never thought our film during #Apollo11 would qualify me as a cinematographer – Thanks @TelevisionAcad for the nomination!” Aldrin tweeted.

The documentary was nominated for five awards, including:

Outstanding Cinematography For A Nonfiction Program
Apollo 11
CNN
CNN Films, Statement Pictures, NEON
Buzz Aldrin, Cinematography by
Michael Collins, Cinematography by

Outstanding Directing For A Documentary/Nonfiction Program
Apollo 11
CNN
CNN Films, Statement Pictures, NEON
Todd Douglas Miller, Directed by

Outstanding Picture Editing For A Nonfiction Program
Apollo 11
CNN
CNN Films, Statement Pictures, NEON
Todd Douglas Miller, Editor

Outstanding Sound Editing For A Nonfiction Or Reality Program (Single Or Multi-Camera)
Apollo 11
CNN
CNN Films, Statement Pictures, NEON
Eric Milano, Sound Design

Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Nonfiction Or Reality Program (Single or Multi-Camera)
Apollo 11
CNN
CNN Films, Statement Pictures, NEON
Eric Milano, Re-Recording Mixer

Laser Beams Reflected Between Earth and Moon Boost Science

This photograph shows the laser-ranging facility at the Goddard Geophysical and Astronomical Observatory in Greenbelt, Md. The facility helps NASA keep track of orbiting satellites. Both beams shown, coming from two different lasers, are pointed at NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is orbiting the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

by Lonnie Shekhtman
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — Dozens of times over the last decade NASA scientists have launched laser beams at a reflector the size of a paperback novel about 240,000 miles (385,000 kilometers) away from Earth. They announced today, in collaboration with their French colleagues, that they received signal back for the first time, an encouraging result that could enhance laser experiments used to study the physics of the universe.

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