NASA HISTORY: Late Astronaut Al Worden Relaxes in Life Raft After Splashing Down in Apollo 15 Spacecraft
By Space Coast Daily // March 17, 2021
Worden logged more than 295 hours in space
(NASA) – Former astronaut Al Worden, command module pilot on the Apollo 15 lunar landing, passed away March 18, 2020, in Texas.
As command module pilot, Worden stayed in orbit while commander David Scott and lunar module pilot Jim Irwin explored the Moon’s Hadley Rille and Appennine Mountains.
Apollo 15’s command module, dubbed Endeavour, was the first to have its own module of scientific instruments. During the flight back from the Moon, Worden made three spacewalks to retrieve film from cameras in the module. Altogether, Worden logged more than 295 hours in space.
In this image, Worden relaxes in the life raft while awaiting a helicopter pickup after the successful splashdown of the Apollo 15 spacecraft.
Worden was born Feb. 7, 1932, in Jackson, Michigan. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1955. He earned master of science degrees in astronautical/aeronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering from the University of Michigan in 1963.
In 1971, the University of Michigan awarded him an honorary doctorate of science in astronautical engineering.
ABOVE VIDEO: As command module pilot for the Apollo 15 mission to the moon in 1971, Al Worden flew on what is widely regarded as the greatest exploration mission that humans have ever attempted. He spent six days orbiting the moon, including three days completely alone, the most isolated human in existence. During the return from the moon to earth he also conducted the first spacewalk in deep space, becoming the first human ever to see both the entire earth and moon simply by turning his head. Space Coast Daily’s Zach Clark interviewed Al Worden in March 2015 at the ‘A Night Under the Stars At Port Canaveral’ event. (Space Coast Daily Video)
Exclusive Interview with NASA Astronaut Al Worden
Before becoming an astronaut, Worden was an instructor at the Aerospace Research Pilots School. He had also served as a pilot and armament officer from March 1957 to May 1961 with the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
Worden was one of 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 9 and as backup command module pilot for Apollo 12.
After leaving the astronaut corps, Worden moved to NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.
He was the Senior Aerospace Scientist there from 1972-73, and then chief of the Systems Study Division until 1975.
After retirement from active duty in 1975, Worden became President of Maris Worden Aerospace, Inc., and was Vice-President of BF Goodrich Aerospace Brecksville, Ohio, in addition to other positions within the aerospace and aviation industries. Worden wrote several books: a collection of poetry, “Hello Earth: Greetings from Endeavour” in 1974; a children’s book, “I Want to Know About a Flight to the Moon”, also in 1974; and a memoir, “Falling to Earth,” in 2011. His interest in educating children about space led to an appearance on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”.
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