Talk:Michael Collins (astronaut)

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Technical Words in This Article[edit]

The words "circumlunar" and "translunar" are single, compound words in the English language, and for rather a long time, too. We should use these and ditch the hyphens. Sources: see
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language (2009)
The Random House Dictionary (2009) which states that "circumlunar" has been in use in the English language since about 1908.
The Random House Dictionary also states that "translunar" has been in use in the English language since about 1927. (talk) 22:45, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
Furthermore, in the English language, the adjectives "nonfiction" and "longtime" have been compound words for a very long time. (Here "long time" is a noun.) We should use these words. As an example, "Michael Collins was a longtime officer in the U.S. Air Force, and he retired with the rank of brigadier general." (talk) 22:47, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
As an aside, the word "northwest" has been in use for over 200 years, and in 1912, an act of the Canadian Parliament made it official in Canada: the official name of the Northwest Territories is exactly this, without any hyphens.
In 1787, the Congress of the United States passed an act that it called the "Northwest Ordinance", and it established the "Northwest Territory" of the United States of America. The British need to get with the majority of the English-speaking world (people for whom this is their native tongue), and cut out the garbage like North East and South West.
For those of you who now live in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, or Wisconsin, where you are now was formerly part of the Northwest Territory. (talk) 22:32, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

First Irishman in Space?[edit]

Hi all. The Irish government claim[1] that Michael Collins was the first Irishman in space. While his name would certainly seem to back this up, does anyone have any info on whether he held or was eligible to hold an Irish passport? To be eligible for an Irish passport in 1930, when Collins was born, you must have either been born in Ireland (Free State or Northern) or have one grandparent who was. If he can be considered the first Irishman in space, that would definitely be worth putting in the article. eiscir 09:48, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Ireland does have a tradition of a highly expansive eligibility for citizenship, and Collins may have indeed been eligible, but not simply because his name is the same as the Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. By that logic, anyone with a certain Spanish last name and certain Gaelicized English first name would be eligible, irrespective of nationality, race, familiarity or connection to Ireland, and so on. Accordingly, I've edited the trivia to omit this rather nonsensical qualifier. Maybe someone could add in trivia, 'in addition to his nominal Irish citizenship he has the same name as famous Irish' etc. instead.Arrogant Papist

According to the wikipedia article on his father, Major General James Lawton Collins, Michael's grandfather Jeremiah Bernard Collins was born in Ireland. This would make Michael eligible for registration in the Foreign Births Entry Book and thus eligible for Irish citizenship. He would need merely to show proof of entitlement (birth certificates, etc.) and pay a fee (around $150-$200) to claim his citizenship. As far as I know, he has not claimed Irish citizenship, though it is his right to do so. Being a General Officer is the U.S. military, as well as an astronaut, maintaining dual citizenship might have prevented him from gaining the necessary security clearances for those positions. Windyjarhead (talk) 21:35, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Hi eiscir. Your link above is invalid as it shows no such claim (as of the date of my edit). The Irish Government can not make such a claim if the person in question does not hold Irish citizenship. It is the right of Michael Collins himself to choose whether he is Irish or not, in terms of nationality. In short, his eligibility is not a prerequisite for the claim of nationality by the Irish Government. To illustrate this, there are many people of Irish ancestry in the USA and as such the same theory could be applied to every Irish-American pioneer in any field. Kymully (talk) 20:21, 08 December 2010 (UTC)

Air Force[edit]

The phrase Air Force is ALWAYS capitalized when referring to the USAF. Can this be more clear? "USAF" = "United States Air Force" - always capitalized, too, as are United States Army, United States Navy, United Stated Marine Corps, and United States Coast Guard. These are all distinguished organizations, and well-deserving of the honor. Dale A. Wood —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dale101usa (talkcontribs)


According to "In the Shadow of the Moon" documentary, Michael Collins is reported as "Brigadier General Michael Collins, USAF (Ret.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:40, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

This NASA web site lists him as a USAF major general (retired): while this NASA site (cited in the infobox) lists him as a retired USAF brigadier general. Is there an authoritative source that can resolve this discrepancy? The Wikipedia article indicates he retired as a major general, but the infobox indicates he retired as a brigadier general. It would be good to resolve this and make both correct. Circumspect (talk) 11:29, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

Michael Collins is a Major General in the USAFR (Reserves), Ret. Source is Michael Collins. KCMCAC6 (talk) 15:12, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

What do you mean "Source is Michael Collins"? Have you been in contact with him? That's not quite good enough; Wikipedia requires WP:Verifiabilty#Reliable sources, which are published. We seem to have a problem here in that NASA puts up two different, contradictory biographies. I'm surprised we don't have any kind of a guideline to handle this situation. When this has come up before (Village Pump), the answer was to state that the sources conflict, and give the contradictory information in the source's voice and not Wikipedia's. Not quite sure how to apply that here. JustinTime55 (talk) 16:00, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
There are a few web-available references that list him as Major General:
There are probably more, but I excluded from my search hits with "lawton" in them, to screen out references to his father, also a major general. TJRC (talk) 18:25, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Here's one more. It got to thinking that it's possible that such a promotion may have required Senate confirmation, so I checked what I could find in the Congressional Record. I didn't find a Senate confirmation (my search was kind of haphazard), but I did find these:
  • Congressional Gold Medal to Astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. 2000 Congressional Record, Vol. 146, Page H4714 (June 20, 2000); ("Mike retired from the Air Force with the rank of Major General."; became the New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Act, (Pub.L. 111–44, 123 Stat. 1966, enacted July 29, 2009)).
That's good enough for me. TJRC (talk) 18:47, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
I've also found a record of Collin's nomination (but not confirmation) to be Major General:
Alas, GPO Congressional Record archives go back only to 1994, but see here. Again, I have not found a record of confirmation, but, given the many references to Collins as Major General and his stature, it would be shocking for this nomination not to have been confirmed. TJRC (talk) 19:24, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

We do appreciate the need for published material to confirm, we were just trying to correct this aspect of his bio. When I say Michael Collins is the source, I do mean that literally, as he is my dad. He says that he is a Major General USAFR (Reserves), Retired. He left active duty as a Col. and became a Brig. then Maj. General while in the reserves (1970 ~ 1988). Thank you for the meticulous researching! Wow! — Preceding unsigned comment added by KCMCAC6 (talkcontribs) 21:22, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

KCMCAC6, thank you for starting the subject. Your dad is one of my heroes, and I will add, a damned good writer. Carrying The Fire is the best of the books written by an ex-astronauts, and I've always been impressed by the absence of a "with John Doe" ghostwriter credit. I have that and Liftoff!, and keep hoping he'll do another.
I think what we have here is some confusion among his service with the Air Force, the Air Force Reserves, and NASA. It's not too difficult to unravel; the timeline is like this:
  • 1970-07-31 Sometime prior to 1973: Collins retires from NASA and from the USAF active duty. [2]. Rank at time of this retirement is unknown from sources, but he was a colonel until 1973 (see below), so probably retired as colonel unless there was an intervening promotion between his retirement and the 1973 nomination. Based on sources below, he remains or later becomes part of the USAF reserves.
Sorry, my goof; the above date 1970-07-31 is incorrect and I have struck it out. The 1970-07-31 retirement date is for Gordon Cooper; there's a missing page 248 that represents the end of Collins's bio and the start of Cooper's; I hadn't realized that. So I don't have a date for his retirement from the regular USAF and NASA; but the rest of this is pretty much the same.
  • 1971: Collins begins service as director of the National Air & Space Museum. [3]. Based on sources below, he continues to serve, or later begins serve, in the USAF reserves.
  • 1973-04-06. Collins, then a colonel in the Air Force Reserves (not active duty), is nominated to the rank of Brigadier General. A record of that nomination is at [4] ("To be brigadier general... Col. Michael Collins, 284-24-8160FV, Air Force Reserve.") At some unknown date not long after this, Collins's nomination is confirmed, and he receives his promotion to brigadier general, USAF reserves. This is the earliest dated reference to Collins being in the reserves, so we know he joined the reserves no later than 1973-04-06. The record is inconclusive as to whether there was any time between his USAF active duty retirement and his enrollment in the USAF Reserves no later than 1973; his USAF-active and USAF-reserve tenure could have been continuous or with a gap between them, for all we know.
  • 1974: Carrying The Fire is published.
  • 1974-1976: NASA's official bio at [5] is published. It refers to Carrying the Fire, so it's 1974 or later; and states that Collins is currently serving as Director of the NASM, so is 1978 or earlier; and it omits his Major General promotion, so is 1976 or earlier. Despite being labelled December 1994, it is clear that it was not regularly updated through that date, or it would not have still listed him as NASM Director or have his outdated Brigadier General rank.
  • 1976-02-25 Collins, then a brigadier general, is nominated to the rank of major general. [6] ("To be major general: Brig. Gen. Michael Collins, 284 24-8160FV, Air Force Reserve."). Presumably confirmed by the Senate.
  • Some time between 1976 and 2000 (probably closer to 1976!): Collins fully retires from the USAF Reserves, with the rank of Major General; his retirement at that rank is noted (without distinguishing between regular USAF and USAF reserves) in the congressional record. [7].
The article does contain a contradiction where it says: "That same year [1978], he retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Brigadier General." But it cites the NASA bio at [8] as a source for that statement, and the source does not say that. It neither gives his date of retirement nor his rank at the time of retirement. It merely says "BGEN, USAF, Ret.", nothing about the date of retirement. It looks to me that "BGEN, USAF, Ret." is a muddled way of saying two things: he's retired from the USAF, and he (at the time of bio) holds the rank of Brigadier General, albeit that was in the reserves. It may also be that the bio originally said "Colonel" when he retired from active duty, and was updated in 1973 to the then-new rank of Brigadier General; but never re-updated to reflect the 1976 nomination and promotion to Major General.
The contradiction in the article stems from not being aware of his post-active-duty career in the reserves, and assuming that the Brigadier General rank was his rank upon retirement from active duty. TJRC (talk) 22:40, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for unraveling the mysteries. I think you have summed it all up quite accurately. (talk) 20:58, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes, thanks for researching this, TJRC. Now all that's left is to honor General Collins by cleaning up the article... JustinTime55 (talk) 14:27, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Great, sounds like a consensus. I'll make the edits later today.
I realize my summary above is a little bit on the WP:SYNTH side, but I don't intend most of it as support for statements in the article, per se. Instead, it's intended as a vehicle to reconcile apparently conflicting sources, and as an aid in assessing their reliability.
My takeaway is we have impeccably reliable sources (the Congressional Record nomination records) that he was nominated for both BG and MG; and the BG promotion had occurred by the time he was nominated for MG. We have a congressional reference to him as MG (introduction of the New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal Act) as well as a supporting reference in the NASA JSC bio,and others. My intended edit is to indicate only his final rank of MG and status as retired from the USAF reserves. We don't know the date or year of that retirement nor his rank when retiring from the USAF active duty or NASA; "colonel" is a pretty good guess, but still just a best guess. TJRC (talk) 17:12, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done [9]. Feel free to improve upon it as you deem appropriate. TJRC (talk) 21:26, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

F-86 ejection[edit]

Collins' bio does not mention a backseater ejecting, only his wingman, in another plane, yelling over the radio "You're on fire. Get out, get out!" This should be corrected.

The paragraph also ends by saying that "the base's doctor had joined search parties looking for the pair." But until that point there is no mention of a second pilot. Was Collins flying a two-seater? It's a picky, tiny detail, but I can't correct it without a reference, and almost all mentions of it on the internet are just mirrors of this page. There's more thorough coverage here, in the sample page of a book, which states that Collins had back problems thereafter, but it says another about the aircraft he was flying. -Ashley Pomeroy (talk) 08:14, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Practically no twin-seat F - 86s were ever made. Its fuselage was simply way to short to accomodate a larger cockpit. The only mention of a twin-seat F - 86 is from this same article:
"TF - 86F
"Two F - 86F converted to two-seat training configuration with a lengthened fuselage and slatted wings under the North American model NA-204". These were certainly never taken overseas by the U.S. Air Force or anyone else.
The F - 86 was certainly quite unlike these nominally single-seat jet fighters, some of which were designed and built with the possibility of a second seat in mind:
P - 80 (Which became the twin-seat T - 33, of which thousands were made), F - 100, F - 104, F - 105, F - 15, F - 16, and F - 18.
Some of the twin-seat versions were stictly trainers, whereas a few were flown in combat: the twin-seat F - 100 and F - 105 during the War in Vietnam. Also, various Navy, Air Force, and Marine jets were deliberately two-seated to carry a radar & weapons operator: F - 89, F - 94, F - 101, F - 4, and F - 14. Alse, these were twin-seaters to carry a bombardier-navigator, a reconnaissance officer, or an electronic warfare officer: A - 5, RA - F, A - 6, F - 111, EF - 111, RF - 4, F - 117, and FB - 111.
The F - 15 and F - 18 were designed and built with the idea in mind of the possibility of a second officer. The F - 15 was designed with an open space behind the pilot's seat, partially with the idea for "future purposes". This area was to be available for an extra fuel tank, extra electronics, especially more-advaced radars, or an additonal officer. The F - 15A and F - 15C are single-seat fighters; the F - 15B and F - 15D have two seats either for training or combat uses; and the F - 15E "Strike Eagle" is always a two-seat fighter-bomber that carries a weapons system officer. Likewise, the F - 18B and F - 18D "Hornet" are twin-seat, dual-purpose fighter-bombers. Then comes the F - 18E and F - 18F "Super Hornet", which is actually a new fighter bomber that is about 40% larger than a standard F - 18. (talk) 22:01, 24 July 2010 (UTC)


Regrettably, Michael Collins' son Michael Jnr died some years ago. A small amendment is perhaps needed on this point. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by MartinPUK (talkcontribs) 20:39, 25 July 2007 (UTC).

First director of National Air & Space Museum?[edit]

I've deleted that he was first director of the NASM, on two different bases.

First, "National Air and Space Museum" is just a new name for the "National Air Museum" that had been around since 1946. "The National Air Museum (NAM) was created as a separate bureau of the Smithsonian Institution by an Act of Congress on 12 August 1946" [10]; "1946: Public Law [79-722], signed by President Harry S. Truman, establishes the National Air Museum as a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution." [11]. It's at best misleading to say that Collins was its first director; at most, he was first director once it was renamed.

But that doesn't even sound right. The name change from NAM to NASM was in 1966. "1966: Public Law 89-509, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, amends the original Air Museum legislation to include the field of space flight." [12]; "In July 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed into law a bill authorizing construction of a new building for the newly-renamed National Air and Space Museum (NASM)." [13]. Even if we mean the first director who served the museum under its new name, that would have been whoever was director in 1966. In 1966 Collins was busy with Gemini 10. He wasn't appointed NASM director until 1971. "1971: Michael Collins, former Apollo 11 astronaut, is named director of the National Air and Space Museum." [14].

Now, maybe if the prior director was appointed prior to 1966 and held the position up until Collins was appointed in 1971, it would be accurate to say that Collins was the first person to be appointed director of the museum since it changed names; but that's just not that big of a deal.

All the cites above are to the Smithsonian Institution's regular web site or its archives; as opposed to some other less authoritative source. TJRC (talk) 00:17, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

update: S. Paul Johnston, held the position of director from 1964 to 1969, and was technically the first director of NASM. On Johnston's resignation Frank A. Taylor was appointed acting director, a position he held until Collins was appointed in 1971. See [15]. So, yeah, Collins was technically the first person to be appointed as Director of the National Air and Space Museum, but not the first to hold that title. Johnston was the first Director of the National Air and Space Museum, but he was appointed as Director of the National Air Museum, and became director of NASM when the name changed. So this seems a silly and misleading thing to note as being a first. TJRC (talk) 00:57, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

Second oldest house in the western hemisphere[edit]

His house in Puerto Rico was the second oldest in the western hemisphere? Since the western hemisphere includes Britain, Ireland, part of France, Spain and Portugal, that's a bold (and I would have to assume incorrect) claim. Traquair Castle in Scotland (well within the western half) has been continuously inhabited since the 1100s. I don't think anything in Puerto Rico competes with that: —Preceding unsigned comment added by Hobson23 (talkcontribs) 16:55, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

I've coincidentally taken this out. Perhaps it's true, although it seems unlikely, but in any case it's just extraneous detail (the house is not mentioned otherwise and doesn't seem to be notable). The mention of Collins' father having a plane ride in 1911 comes out of nowhere as well, but I've left it in just in case the pilot mentioned in the article is famous in the US. -Ashley Pomeroy (talk) 07:59, 17 July 2009 (UTC)


He was born in Italy in 1930. Neither this article nor the article about his father explains why this came to be; were the family on holiday, or was his father stationed there (presumably not)? I only mention it because I had assumed Collins was Spanish or Italian-American on account of his permatan, but apparently not. -Ashley Pomeroy (talk) 07:59, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Michael Collins's father, James Lawton Collins was an officer in U.S. Army (who retired in 1946 at the rank of Major General) who was stationed in Italy - probably to serve in the office of the Military Attache' at the American Embassy in Rome. (Maybe he was the Military Attache' in Rome.) In any case, other than at embassies, the United States did not have any soldiers, airmen, or Marines stationed overseas in 1930 (except at American possessions then, such as the Philippines, Guam, the Panama Canal Zone, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Alaska Territory, and the Territory of Hawaii. 1930 was well-before WW II, NATO, and all that, and the United States was a very isolationist country from about 1920 through 1941.
In any case, it seems that Collins's father was stationed with the Army in the Rome area, and when he went there, he took his immediate family with him, especially his wife(!). This is how Michael Collins came to be born in Rome. The Federal courts in the U.S. have ruled that the children of American citzens who have been sent abroad in the service of the Federal government really are "native-born citizens" of the United States, as is mentioned in the Consitution of the United States. Hence, Collins is a native-born citizen. His father was an American of Irish descent.
In a similar case, Senator John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, and he was the son of a U.S. Navy officer who was stationed there, and who took his wife with him. That seems to make McCain a native-born citizen of the United States, also. (talk) 18:56, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Collins has stated in his autobiography and in other works that he has selected Washington, D.C., as his honorary "hometown" in the United States. (talk) 18:04, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

21st FTW[edit]

Just for clarification: Michael Collins, and the 21st Fighter Bomber Wing were not transfered from George AFB to Chaumont AB, France. The wing, along with Collins, was transfered in late 1954/early 1955 to Chambley AB, France, where it remained until its' deactivation in Febuary 1958. The wing's aircraft did land, temporarily, at Chaumont because the runways were not ready when they arrived from George.

Also, I believe that Michael and Pat Collins were married at Chambley, not in Metz.

J M Turner, A/1c, 21st Air Police Squadron Chambley AB, FR, Jan 1956-Dec 1957 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:27, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

The Samuel Jackson Five[edit]

The norse post-rock band The Samuel Jackson Five have a song on their album Easily Misunderstood called Michael Collins Autograph. Is this perhaps worth a mention? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:19, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

No. Why make an already bad section worse? What's the cultural significance of this datum? TJRC (talk) 18:11, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

Edit request from Baka7kami, 25 June 2010[edit]

{{editsemiprotected}} Here is a citation for the quote "not since Adam has any human known such solitude", it is under 9:44 am. Baka7kami (talk) 20:53, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done CTJF83 pride 22:59, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

Minor Grammer Edit?[edit]

Stupid Comment: Part of third sentence wording is very cumbersome. Maybe it would read better "command pilot John Young performed rendezvous' with two different spacecraft and Collins undertook two EVAs". Is "rendezvous" both singular and plural?

Need a Reference[edit]

Last sentence refers to "The Mighty Boosh". Considering a large part of the world would have no idea who they are, I would suggest at the very least referencing this to their Wiki page and maybe include a following tag like "(a British comedy troupe and BBC television series)" or something like that.

Edit request - first sentence "Childhood and education"[edit]

The first sentence of this section is poorly formed and seems to imply that Major General James Lawton Collins was both his mother and his father!

Michael Collins was born in Rome, Italy on October 31, 1930, to United States Army Major General James Lawton Collins, who would serve in the army ...

It might be clearer to say:

Michael Collins was born in Rome, Italy on October 31, 1930. His father, United States Army Major General James Lawton Collins, served in the army ...

Might it also be nice to mention his mother somewhere near this point? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:33, 4 September 2011 (UTC)


At the 'Michael Collin' page the quarantine period is said to be 21 days. But the same at 'Neil Armstrong' page is mentioned to be 18 days.

is this an error, or was the quarantine time actually different for both the astronauts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rugved.desai (talkcontribs) 09:27, 27 August 2012 (UTC)

Life in Puerto Rico[edit]

Michael Collins lived in Puerto Rico when his father was stationed there. He went to school at Academia del Perpetuo Socorro, a school which was located nearby the then Naval Base. There is a suggestion on adding the date when he first flew a plane. It is known he attended the school in 1941. (See News Paper Article: Jmoliver (talk) 00:31, 29 January 2013 (UTC)