Apollo 11 Astronaut Urges U.S. Not to Be a 'Dominant' or 'Overbearing Power'

WASHINGTON — Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins said the United States shouldn't try to be a "dominant" or "overbearing power."

"I think the United States has to be a power in the world, but a very friendly power and not an overbearing power and not a power that tries to be dominant — that's State Department talk," Collins said during a "One Giant Leap: Space Diplomacy, Past, Present, and Future" discussion at George Washington University on Thursday night.

Collins, former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in the Nixon administration, said he was "thrilled and very proud to be a citizen of the USA" when the American flag was planted on the moon 50 years ago.

"I continue to be very proud to be a citizen of the USA. On the other hand, that trip around the world kind of changed — opened my vista a little bit," he said.

During the discussion, Collins explained that after the moon landing, people around the world told him and his fellow Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong that "we did it" rather than "you Americans finally did it."

"When we're in the business of foreign policy, the technology that goes into a foreign policy, the use of that technology, how it manifests itself and how we treat other countries, I think it's important we try not to be, I don't mind being the leader, but not the dominant leader and I think we ought to bend over backwards to have a unified, worldwide approach to the things we are trying to do in space," Collins said. "It may slow us down a little bit in some cases but I'm not sure speed is a paramount goal."

Buzz Aldrin made a surprise appearance at the end of the program and discussed his vision for a "space alliance."

Saturday, July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Collins and Aldrin met with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the Oval Office on Friday.