Michael Collins' confession tapes reveal that he could have been a 'marked man for the rest of his life' if the plan went awry.
On the 21st of July 1969, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins made the once in a lifetime mission to the moon. The Apollo 11 mission was a huge success and no doubt, many people alive today remember watching Aldrin's 'one small step' speech unfold on their television screens.
Michael Collins is no doubt the lesser-known of the three history makers. Collins was mainly the man behind the scenes who remained in Command Module 'Columbia' for 21 hours while the other two astronauts explored theMoon's surface.
In 2019, the astronauts all opened up about their experience, to commemorate 50 years since their interstellar adventure. He told ABC:
They were wonderful crew-mates, each in their own way. Buzz was, from a technical background, Neil was not only a highly-experienced test pilot, but he knew the whys and the wherefores of what of the spacecraft.
Then, Collins goes on to describe his experience in the spacecraft:
We looked out the window and my god that Moon was immense and so three-dimensional. You have the sunlight illuminating the ring of the surface. I looked back from 230,000 miles away and I saw this tiny little object, somehow beyond its size and gloss, it projects a feeling of fragility, it’s a fragile tiny little thing.
However, upon reflection, the 89-year-old stated that he was not envious of his colleagues and their ability to walk on the moon. Collins was actually quite happy to stay inside and soak up the immensity of space from inside the spacecraft:
I like being in the command module by myself, I had my own little way of doing things, I had hot coffee, I took the centre seat out and it was almost like being in a little church. As far as feeling left out or anything, not at all, I felt very much an equal partner with them. They only had one little motor, that was it and it had to work perfectly. If it didn’t they were stuck on the Moon and I was not going to commit suicide.
Collins then continued, revealing what the situation would have been if Aldrin and Armstrong were stuck on the moon, in which case, he would have had to make the journey back to Earth alone:
I was going to come home and I would not have been a happy returnee, I’d be a marked man for the rest of my life. I worried about ever having to be in that situation.
Luckily, all three pioneers made it back home safely, but not without a little trouble hitting their landing. Collins revealed a bet he had with Neil Armstrong upon their return:
I had bet Neil a case of beer that we would not flip over during return. We hit the ocean so fast that Buzz, who was all prepared, his hand was jerked off and he missed the circuit breakers. I turned the switches and they didn’t work, because he hadn’t pushed in the breakers. So we flipped over into stable two and I owed Neil a case of beer.
I'm sure we can all agree that a case of beer is a light price to pay for an adventure as incredible as that.