Astronaut Richard F. Gordon Jr.
Credits: NASA

Apollo 12 astronaut Richard Gordon passes away

Former NASA astronaut Richard Gordon, command module pilot on Apollo 12, the second lunar landing mission, passed away on November 6, 2017.

In a tribute to the late astronaut, NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said: “NASA and the nation have lost one of our early space pioneers. We send our condolences to the family and loved ones of Gemini and Apollo astronaut Richard Gordon, a hero from NASA’s third class of astronauts.”

Gordon, a retired U. S. Navy captain, became an astronaut in 1963. He spent more than 316 hours in space on two missions. He was the pilot for the three-day Gemini 11 mission in 1966 and performed two spacewalks. At the time of the flight, Gemini 11 set the world altitude record of 850 miles.

Gordon was born in Seattle, Washington in 1929. He graduated from North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo, Washington in 1947, then received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Washington in 1951.

In 1953, Gordon received his wings as a naval aviator. He then attended All-Weather Flight School and jet transitional training and was subsequently assigned to an all-weather fighter squadron at the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1957, he attended the Navy’s Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, and served as a flight test pilot until 1960. During this tour of duty, he did flight test work on the F8U Crusader, F11F Tigercat, FJ Fury, and A4D Skyhawk, and was the first project test pilot for the F4H Phantom II. He served with Fighter Squadron 121 at the Miramar, California, Naval Air Station as a flight instructor in the F4H and participated in the introduction of that aircraft to the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He was also flight safety officer, assistant operations officer, and ground training officer for Fighter Squadron 96 at Miramar.

Gordon made a second flight in 1969 as command pilot on Apollo 12 with spacecraft commander, Charles Conrad and lunar module pilot, Alan Bean. Throughout the 31-hour lunar surface stay by Conrad and Bean, Gordon remained in orbit around the moon on the command module, “Yankee Clipper.”

Since retiring from NASA, Gordon served as Executive Vice President of the New Orleans Saints Professional Football Club in the National Football League and held executive positions at several companies in the oil and gas, engineering and technology industries.

About Annabelle Phillips 14 Articles

I’m a writer from Queensland, Australia, looking to break into the freelance copywriting field.  Currently, I work part-time in retail, writing short fiction and poetry in my free time and covering news in the science field.

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