|Richard F. Gordon Jr. walked in space on Gemini XI and
orbited the moon on Apollo XII.|
He was born October 5th, 1929 in Seattle, Washington. He received a Bachelor
of Science Degree from the University of Washington in 1957.
Gordon, a retired Navy Captain, received his wings as a Naval Aviator in 1953.
He attended All-Weather Flight School and Jet Transitional Training and was
assigned to an All-Weather Fighter Squadron at the Naval Air Station,
He attended the Navy's Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, MD, and was a
flight test pilot there until 1960.
He later 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 also was Flight Safety
Officer, Assistant Operations Officer and Ground Training Officer for Fighter
Squadron 96 at Miramar.
He won the Bendix Trophy Race from Los Angeles to New York in May 1961, setting
a new speed record of 869.74 miles per hour and a transcontinental record of 2
hours, 47 minutes.
NASA selected Gordon as an astronaut in 1963. He made his first space flight
as Pilot on the three-day Gemini XI Mission, launched September 12th, 1966. He
and Commander Charles Conrad, Jr. tracked down and docked with an Agena
satellite. Gordon left the spacecraft for a planned 115-minute space walk, but
he had to cut it short after 44 minutes because of difficulty maintaining his
position in weightlessness without handholds or foot restraints, a valuable
lesson for later space walkers. They used the Agena engine to rocket to a
then-record altitude of 850 miles.
Gordon and Conrad were back in space together on November 14th, 1969,
on the Apollo XII Moon Mission. With them was Alan Bean. While Gordon
circled 60 miles above the moon, Conrad and Bean demonstrated a pinpoint
landing by parking the Lunar Module in the Ocean of Storms near an unmanned
Surveyor craft that had touched down there two years earlier. They conducted
two outside excursions to gather rocks and other information.
In 1971, Gordon became Chief of Advanced Programs for the Astronaut Office and
worked on the design and testing of the Space Shuttle and development
equipment. A year later he retired from NASA and the Navy to become Executive
Vice President of the New Orleans Saints professional football team.
Richard Gordon was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame on
March 19, 1993.