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WASHINGTON: American astronaut Michael Collins, who flew the Apollo 11 command module while his crewmates became the first people to land on the Moon on July 20, 1969, died on Wednesday after battling cancer, his family said.

“Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way,” Collins’ family posted on his official Twitter account.

“Please join us in fondly and joyfully remembering his sharp wit, his quiet sense of purpose, and his wise perspective, gained both from looking back at Earth from the vantage of space and gazing across calm waters from the deck of his fishing boat.”

Details about the service would be forthcoming, they added. Born in Rome in 1930 to a US army officer serving as military attache there, Collins went on to become a fighter pilot with the air force and retired with the rank of Major General. He is best known for being a member of the Apollo 11 mission when his crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to set foot on the Moon.

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