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Petition asks NASA to name Lunar Gateway after Michael Collins

An illustration of a Dragon XL spacecraft approaching an evolved Lunar Gateway outpost around the Moon. Credit: NASA

An illustration of a Dragon XL spacecraft approaching an evolved Lunar Gateway outpost around the Moon. Credit: NASA

There is a petition to rename NASA’s Lunar Gateway after former Apollo astronaut Michael Collins, who died April 28, 2021, at age 90.

Collins was one of three astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969, the first to land humans on the Moon. While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface in the Lunar Module, Collins remained aboard the Command Module, orbiting some 65 miles (105 kilometers) above the Moon for more than 21 hours as the world turned its attention to the landing. This led some to call him “the loneliest man in history.”

“It is, for this reason, why I believe the Lunar Gateway should be renamed after him,” said Collins Simpson in the text of the petition he created. “He watched as his fellow astronauts descended onto the surface, just as many astronauts will do from the Gateway in the future.”

Collins trains inside an Apollo command module simulator in advance of the Apollo 11 mission. Credit: ANSA

The Lunar Gateway, part of NASA’s Artemis program, is a space station that astronauts are expected to pass through on their way to the Moon’s surface. Just like Collins, the deep space outpost will orbit the Moon while aspiring moonwalkers descend to the lunar surface.

Located in a “near-rectilinear halo orbit,” the Gateway is expected to circle the Moon once every six days in a highly-elliptical trajectory taking it as close as 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers) from one lunar pole to 43,000 miles (70,000 kilometers) from the other. It would offer a full view of Earth during its entire orbit and serve as a communications relay for astronauts on the Moon’s south pole.

The first two modules, Maxar Technologies Power and Propulsion Element and Northrop Grumman’s Habitation and Logistics Module (called HALO), are set to launch sometime in 2024 atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

The first astronauts aren’t expected to visit the outpost until the Artemis 4 mission, which is currently slated to be the second human lunar landing of the Artemis program.

Collins leaves behind a legacy that many, including Simpson, feel should be honored in a way fitting to the solitary mission realized and acknowledged as a three-man crew once the astronauts returned to Earth.

Although Collins never set foot on the Moon, he played an extremely important role maintaining the Apollo Command Module while in orbit while his crewmates were on the lunar surface.

The crew left a plaque on the Moon that reads, “We came in peace for all mankind.” It was signed by Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins and then-President Richard Nixon.

While the petition aims to influence NASA to consider changing the name of the Lunar Gateway to Collins Lunar Gateway, NASA is under no obligation to do so. As of May 6, 2021, more than 12,000 have signed the petition.

Video courtesy of NASA


Theresa Cross grew up on the Space Coast. It’s only natural that she would develop a passion for anything “Space” and its exploration. During these formative years, she also discovered that she possessed a talent and love for defining the unique quirks and intricacies that exist in mankind, nature, and machines. Hailing from a family of photographers—including her father and her son, Theresa herself started documenting her world through pictures at a very early age. As an adult, she now exhibits an innate photographic ability to combine what appeals to her heart and her love of technology to deliver a diversified approach to her work and artistic presentations. Theresa has a background in water chemistry, fluid dynamics, and industrial utility.

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