Michael Collins was the man who got history’s middle seat — literally aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft, but in more lasting ways too. He was, technically, the second-ranking member of the three-man crew that achieved the historic moon landing of July 20, 1969.
As command module pilot, Collins was answerable to commander Neil Armstrong, but outranked lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin. In the protocol-minded world of NASA, the crew was thus known as Armstrong, Collins and Aldrin, always in that order. But the world has ever flipped that sequence to Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. That, of course, was because Armstrong and Aldrin alone descended to the lunar surface while Collins — like the command module pilots on the subsequent five lunar landings — remained aloft in lunar orbit, tending the mother ship and prepared to dive to a lower orbit and rescue the other two if their lunar module failed to climb to sufficient altitude when it was time to come home.
Before the crew left Earth, Deke Slayton, who made the crew assignments, promised Collins that as soon as Apollo 11 made it home, he would slot him back into the flight rotation so he could command …read more
Source:: Time – Science