Tributes paid to Irish-American moon landing astronaut Michael Collins following death aged 90

Tributes paid to Irish-American moon landing astronaut Michael Collins following death aged 90

TRIBUTES HAVE been paid to moon landing astronaut Michael Collins, who has passed away at the age of 90.

Collins took part in the 1969 Apollo 11 moon mission alongside Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, which famously placed the human race on the moon for the very first time.

While Collins himself did not walk on the moon, he served as command module pilot,manning the ship as Aldrin and Armstrong explored the moon beneath him-- gaining the nickname 'the loneliest man in history'.

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

His family announced his passing yesterday, stating he had died "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.

Heartfelt tributes have been paid on social media to the man who helped reach one of mankind's greatest achievements, and who inspired countless others to follow his path into becoming an astronaut.

Leading the tributes was his Apollo 11 colleague, Dr Buzz Aldrin.

Sharing an image of the three astronauts on the mission, Aldrin wrote:

"Dear Mike, Wherever you have been or will be, you will always have the Fire to Carry us deftly to new heights and to the future.

"We will miss you. May you Rest In Peace."

NASA Moon shared an iconic photograph taken by Collins while on board the Apollo 11, of Aldrin and Armstrong returning to the ship in a lunar module with planet Earth in the background-- "all of humanity is in this photograph, save Collins himself."

The National Air and Space Museu shared the Apollo 11 mission patch, designed by Michael Collins, and said he intentionally aimed to represent "the thousands who worked toward a lunar landing, not just the astronauts, and it remains one of the only NASA mission patches without the names of the crew."

Fellow astronaut Ricky Arnold also shared Collins's famous photo of Earth, along with a quote from the man himself- "I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of, let's say 100,000 miles, their outlook would be fundamentally changed.

"The all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument suddenly silenced."

The official NASA Astronauts social media page shared multiple photographs of Collins throughout his life and career, saying they were honouring " the life & legacy of an astronaut who paved the way for the future of space exploration.

"From the astronaut corps, Ad Astra to one of our very best."

In a statement yesterday, NASA said the world had 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.”