Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins dies aged 90

Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins dies aged 90

AMERICAN astronaut Michael Collins has passed away at the age of 90, his family have confirmed today.

He took part in the Apollo 11 mission alongside Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin which famously landed on the moon for the very first time 1969.

Collins' family confirmed the news on Wednesday in a statement on Twitter, saying he passed "after a valiant battle with cancer."

"He spent his final days resting peacefully, with family by his side. Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way," the statement read.

The astronaut's grandfather, Jeremiah Bernard Collins, emigrated from Dunmanway, Co. Cork in the early 1860s to Cincinnati, Ohio in the United States.

Collins himself served as command module pilot, often called "the loneliest man in history", as part of the Apollo 11 mission, as Armstrong and Aldrin became the first men to walk on the lunar surface.

Piers Morgan led the tributes on Twitter.

"He didn’t get to walk on the Moon like Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin, but none of them would have got there & back without him. He described Earth as looking 'Serene and fragile'."

In a statement, NASA said that the US has "lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration."

"NASA mourns the loss of this accomplished pilot and astronaut, a friend of all who seek to push the envelope of human potential," the agency said.

"Whether his work was behind the scenes or on full view, his legacy will always be as one of the leaders who took America's first steps into the cosmos.

"And his spirit will go with us as we venture toward farther horizons.”