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  • Hello and welcome to 6 Minute

  • English from BBC Learning

  • English. I'm Neil.

  • And I'm Georgina.

  • In this programme, we're

  • going to be talking about

  • the astronaut who piloted the

  • command module to take Neil

  • Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin

  • to walk on the Moon.

  • Michael Collins, who sadly passed

  • away in 2021 at the age of 90, has

  • been described as 'the loneliest

  • man in history'.

  • Yes, while Armstrong

  • delivered his famous quote

  • when taking the first steps on the lunar

  • surface, and Buzz followed soon

  • after, Collins was left behind

  • to circle the Moon, tasked with

  • the huge responsibility of getting

  • the three pioneers - the first

  • people to do something -

  • back to Earth. That's right.

  • And many people over the

  • years have wondered whether

  • he was disappointed not to

  • have walked on the Moon.

  • How would you feel if you

  • went all that way and didn't

  • stand on the Moon, Georgina?

  • Me personally - I'd probably be

  • pretty devastated - but I think it

  • depends on personality. To be

  • honest, I'd probably be too

  • scared to go to the

  • Moon anyway.

  • Yes - and just think about

  • being in a space module

  • together - trapped for all those

  • hours - it could create quite

  • the sense of camaraderie - a

  • friendship and trust formed

  • by spending time together.

  • Or you could drive each

  • other crazy asking questions!

  • Which is what I'm going to do

  • now, Georgina. I know how

  • much you love animals - and

  • the first animal that went

  • into space was a Russian

  • dog in 1957, but what

  • was that dog's name? a) Irina, b) Laika or

  • c) Anastasia?

  • Well, I think I know this

  • one - b) Laika - and I believe,

  • sadly, she didn't survive.

  • OK, Georgina, we'll find out if

  • that's right at the end of the

  • programme. But let's talk

  • more about Michael Collins

  • and that famous trip to the

  • Moon that captured people's

  • attention around the world.

  • Yes - I think one thing that

  • has always interested me is

  • the feeling of friendship, or

  • as you said camaraderie, that

  • must have developed between

  • those three explorers.

  • But, perhaps surprisingly, in

  • an interview with the BBC

  • programme Hard Talk, Collins

  • said the close connection

  • between the astronauts

  • didn't develop until later.

  • We formed some very strong

  • bonds, but actually, not really

  • during the flight of Apollo 11

  • or even during the preparatory

  • flight of the flight. It was a

  • round-the-world trip that

  • we took after the flight.

  • When I came to know Neil

  • better. During our training,

  • in the first place we had not

  • been a backup as most

  • primary crews had been,

  • so we just got to know

  • each other in the 6 months

  • before the flight, which

  • is a short period of time.

  • So, it wasn't really until

  • afterwards that they

  • formed those strong bonds -

  • the connections between

  • them, until on a trip round

  • the world to talk about

  • their experiences.

  • Six months sounds like

  • a long time, but I suppose

  • when preparing to become

  • famous and go down in

  • history, as they did - it

  • doesn't leave much time

  • for personal interactions.

  • One of the sad things to

  • take away is that everyone

  • remembers Armstrong and

  • Aldrin, but sometimes

  • Collins is seen as

  • the forgotten man.

  • Yes - and he did say in

  • the interview that he would

  • have loved to walk on the

  • Moon, but he was very

  • proud to be a part of

  • the team - as he was

  • one of the trailblazers -

  • a similar word to pioneer.

  • They most certainly were

  • trailblazers. But imagine how

  • he must have felt - circling

  • around Moon, all alone!

  • Yes, a lot of people

  • questioned Collins afterwards

  • regarding the solitude, about

  • which he had this to say in

  • the same interview with

  • BBC programme Hard Talk:

  • Well, I... when I returned

  • to Earth, I was amazed

  • because most of the

  • questions to me from the

  • press centred on: You were the

  • loneliest man in the whole

  • lonely orbit around the lonely

  • planet on a lonely evening.

  • And I felt, on the other hand,

  • quite comfortable in my happy

  • little home inside the command

  • module Columbia. I had been

  • flying aeroplanes by myself

  • for a number of years. So, the

  • fact I was aloft by myself

  • was not anything new.

  • So, it sounds like he

  • appreciated the peace and

  • quiet and he felt used to it

  • having been alone on flights.

  • Yes - while people talk about

  • the two who walked on the

  • Moon, he must have

  • experienced an incredible

  • sense of peace while on the

  • dark side of the Moon - the

  • first person ever to go there.

  • But now, Georgina, let's get the

  • answer to my question: What

  • was the name of the first

  • animal, a dog, to

  • go into space?

  • I said Laika.

  • Which is correct, well done!

  • And you were right when you

  • said that she sadly didn't

  • survive the return to Earth.

  • Well, speaking of dogs,

  • I need to feed mine soon -

  • so let's just recap

  • some of the vocabulary

  • we've discussed.

  • Yes, we had camaraderie -

  • a sense of trust and

  • friendship after spending a

  • long time together, and the

  • creation of strong bonds

  • or connections.

  • And if you're the first person

  • to do something, you could

  • be called a pioneer.

  • Or even a trailblazer which