Astronaut Al Worden Passes Away


NASA astronaut Alfred “Al” Worden passed away on Wednesday at the age of 88. Worden was the command module pilot for the 1971 Apollo 15 lunar landing mission, orbiting the Moon while David Scott and James Irwin landed on the surface. On the return trip to Earth, Worden became the first person to conduct a “deep space” spacewalk. He logged more than 295 hours in space.

“Al was an American hero whose achievements in space and on Earth will never be forgotten,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Of his mission Worden said, ‘Now I know why I’m here. Not for a closer look at the Moon, but to look back at our home, the Earth.’ We remember this pioneer whose work expanded our horizons.”

Worden graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1955. During his military career, he served as an instructor at the Aerospace Research Pilots School and a pilot and armament officer with the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Maryland’s Andrews Air Force Base. He earned Master of Science degrees in astronautical/aeronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering from the University of Michigan in 1963.

Worden joined NASA in 1966. After the Apollo 15 mission, he went on to work as senior aerospace scientist and systems study division chief at NASA’s Ames Research Center. He retired in 1975.

Video: NASA
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. I met him when he escorted a “group of distinguished male aviators” (whose name cannot be divulged) on a private tours, arranged by the local chapter, of which he was a member.

    He was a great host (how many times can you have an astronaut and space pioneer give you one-on-one time?). He treated all of us as fellow pilots. He autographed books–going the extra mile to personalize them.

    Unlike some astronauts, he was “Earthy” (no pun intended) and straightforward–indeed, it was like talking to a fellow pilot, instead of a national hero.