NASA Mourns Passing of U.S. Navy Aviator, Astronaut Don L. Lind

By  //  September 6, 2022

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earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1964

NASA is mourning the recent passing of U.S. Navy aviator and NASA astronaut Don L. Lind.

(NASA) – NASA is mourning the recent passing of U.S. Navy aviator and NASA astronaut Don L. Lind.

Lind earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1964 and was selected as an astronaut in 1966.

Although he was involved with the Apollo and Skylab programs, he didn’t get to space until 1985 for STS-51-B.

Early life and education

Lind was born May 18, 1930. He attended Midvale Elementary School and graduated from Jordan High School. He received a Bachelor of Science degree with high honors in Physics from the University of Utah in 1953. At the United States Navy Officer Candidate School Lind jokingly requested flight training and was unable to change his assignment, but found that he enjoyed flying. As a Naval Aviator, Lind volunteered to take high-altitude photo emulsions of cosmic rays for the University of California, Berkeley during flights. This helped him enroll at Berkeley, where Lind researched pion-nucleon scattering in the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory and earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in high-energy nuclear physics in 1964.Template:R He conducted postdoctoral research at the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, from 1975 to 1976.Template:R

Navy service

Lind held the rank of Commander in the Naval Reserve. He received his Wings of Gold in 1957 and served four years on active duty with the Navy at San Diego and later aboard the carrier USS Hancock. During that time Lind logged more than 4,500 hours of flight time, 4,000 of which were in a jet aircraft.

NASA career

From 1964, Lind worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a space physicist. He was involved in experiments to determine the nature and properties of low-energy particles within the Earth’s magnetosphere and interplanetary space. Lind applied for NASA’s third group of astronauts but did not have enough flight hours, and was too old for the fourth group. After the age restriction changed, he was among the fifth group, the “Original Nineteen”, selected in April 1966.

Although pilots comprised the Original Nineteen (unlike the fourth and sixth groups, which included only scientists), Deke Slayton assigned Lind to science-related tasks due to his doctorate. For the Apollo program he helped to develop the tools used on the lunar surface, and was a possible crewman of one of the canceled missions. Lind served as backup pilot for Skylab 3 and Skylab 4, the second and third manned Skylab missions; was on standby for a rescue mission planned when malfunctions developed on Skylab 3; and was a possible crewman of Skylab B. When the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum received the unused Skylab B he “cried ceremonially in front of it”, Lind later said; “I was … in the right place at the wrong time”.

For the Space Shuttle program Lind was also a member of the Astronaut Office’s Operations Missions development group, responsible for developing payloads for the early Space Shuttle Orbital Flight Test (OFT) missions, and the Canadarm. He finally flew as a Mission Specialist (and de facto payload commander) on STS-51-B (April 29 to May 6, 1985), logging over 168 hours in space. Lind waited longer than any other American for his first spaceflight, 19 years. Sixteen members of the Original Nineteen, and 14 in later astronaut groups, flew in space before him.

Lind left NASA in 1986 and for nine years served as a professor of physics and astronomy at Utah State University.