Michael Collins was not the first human to see the far side of the moon. That honour belongs to the crew of Apollo 8, followed by those on board Apollo 10. However, he was memorably the man who commanded Apollo 11 while Armstrong and Aldrin dominated the TV screens of the world. He was also the first man in the Apollo programme to possess the gift of the use of language, as this article celebrating his 85th birthday demonstrated. He was known as the poet of the group, which caused President Nixon some slight amusement when he spoke to the astronauts on their return and not even Collins could find the words to describe their experience.
His lack of bitterness on net being selected to set foot on the moon wss clearly genuine. He also, rarely among the astronauts, kept his marriage together. He may have left NASA not long after the moon landing, but he remained in public service and, as National Geographic records, he stayed involved in human space exploration for most of that time. An estimable man, and an inspiration.