FLORIDA, USA — A petition to rename NASA's upcoming Lunar Gateway after legendary astronaut Michel Collins is gaining traction online.
Collins, who was a part of the historic Apollo 11 mission, died earlier this year at the age of 90 after a battle with cancer.
“Mike always faced the challenges of life with grace and humility, and faced this, his final challenge, in the same way. We will miss him terribly. Yet we also know how lucky Mike felt to have lived the life he did. We will honor his wish for us to celebrate, not mourn, that life," his family wrote in a statement.
"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," they added.
Now, more than 16,000 people are calling for NASA to honor the astronaut deemed, in some eyes, to be "forgotten" while he orbited 65 miles above the Moon as crewmembers Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked its surface.
The petition proposes the name Collins Lunar Gateway for the multi-purpose outpost that will be essential to NASA's Artemis program. The Artemis program will look to launch the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024.
"I believe that his legacy should be honored by NASA and the space community in this way. He was an explorer, trailblazer, and an inspiration to many, including myself," the petition creator wrote. "Those who seek to follow his path will be able to honor the legacy he left by living and passing through the Collins Lunar Gateway on the way to blaze their own trails and carry the fire."
Collins also flew on the Gemini 10 mission and logged 266 hours in space during his time at NASA. In 1970 he left the agency and later became the director of the National Air and Space Museum.
Over the years he received several decorations and awards including the Presidential Medal for Freedom and the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy.
Astronauts on future Moon missions will provide "essential support" for the sustainable and long-term return of humans to the lunar surface, according to NASA. The Gateway will also act as a staging area of upcoming deep space exploration.
You can learn more about the Lunar Gateway here.
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