Apollo 11 pilot Michael Collins disagrees with return to moon, wants straight shot to Mars

Michael Collins, the command module pilot on Apollo 11, has said he disagrees with the Trump administration's focus on reaching the moon as a starting point before trying to explore Mars -- arguing that the U.S. should instead direct its efforts toward going directly to the red planet.

"This administration wants to go back to the moon and use the moon as a jumping-off point -- and they've done a lot of research and there's a lot of solid science behind that," he told Fox News' Leland Vittert during an interview that aired Saturday.

"I disagree with that. I believe in JFK Mars express," Collins said, referring to former President John F. Kennedy. The interview, shown on "America's News HQ," came on the 50th anniversary of Collins' trip on the first mission in which a man would walk on the moon.

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One of the greatest achievements in human history, the mission delivered on Kennedy’s 1961 promise to land an American on the Moon by the end of that decade.

Collins told Vittert that he didn't think often about the historic event but occasionally remembered the trip while walking at night. "I lead a quiet life and I'll be walking along down my street ... and I sense something over my right shoulder -- and I look up and I see that little silver sliver up there and I think, 'Oh, that's the moon, I've been there!'"

APOLLO 11 FLIGHT DIRECTOR REMEMBERS HISTORIC MISSION TO THE MOON

"It takes me by surprise," he added. Collins also pushed back on the idea that the U.S. currently lacks public servants who could serve as an example for younger Americans. "I think the country is in pretty good shape, by in large," he said.

He added that sending people into space "gets youngsters excited." "It's a facet of our civilization. We have many, many cultural affairs and some scientific affairs, and I think kids follow both of them and look up to both aspects of our life here," he said.

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Collins' fellow astronaut Stan Love lamented polling that showed young Americans would rather be a YouTube star than an astronaut.

"The thing that I try to do is share my excitement, my enthusiasm for what is still the coolest job in the world," Love said. "I encourage the YouTube fans to maybe get up from the couch now and then and consider engaging with reality.

"It can be very rewarding," Love added with a smile.

Fox News' James Rogers contributed to this report.