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Richard Gordon

Richard Gordon

Born on: 5 Oct 1929
Join NASA in: 17 Oct 1963
Current status: Retired 1 Jan 1972
Spaceflight Position Date
Gemini 11 Pilot 12.09. - 15.09.1966
Apollo 12 CMP 14.11. - 24.11.1969
Spaceflight experience:
Richard Gordon was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. He served as backup pilot for the Gemini 8 flight.

On September 12, 1966, he served as pilot for the 3-day Gemini XI mission--on which rendezvous with an Agena was achieved in less than one orbit. He executed docking maneuvers with the previously launched Agena and performed two periods of extravehicular activity which included attaching a tether to the Agena and retrieving a nuclear emulsion experiment package. Other highlights accomplished by Gordon and command pilot Charles Conrad on this flight included the successful completion of the first tethered station-keeping exercise, establishment of a new altitude record of 850 miles, and completion of the first fully automatic controlled reentry. The flight was concluded on September 15, 1966, with the spacecraft landing in the Atlantic--2 1/2 miles from the prime recovery ship USS GUAM.

Gordon was subsequently assigned as backup command pilot for Apollo 9.

He occupied the command module pilot seat on Apollo 12, November 14-24, 1969. Other crewmen on man's second lunar landing mission were Charles Conrad, spacecraft commander, and Alan L. Bean, lunar module pilot. Throughout the 31-hour lunar surface stay by Conrad and Bean, Gordon remained in lunar orbit aboard the command module, "Yankee Clipper," obtaining desired mapping photographs of tentative landing sites for future missions. He also performed the final re-docking maneuvers following the successful lunar orbit rendezvous which was initiated by Conrad and Bean from within "Intrepid" after their ascent from the moon's surface.

All of the mission's objectives were accomplished and Apollo 12 achievements include: The first precision lunar landing with "Intrepid's" touchdown in the moon's Ocean of Storms; the first lunar traverse by Conrad and Bean as they deployed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP), installed a nuclear power generator station to provide the power source for these long-term scientific experiments, gathered samples of the lunar surface for return to earth, and completed a close up inspection of the Surveyor III spacecraft.

The Apollo 12 mission lasted 244 hours and 36 minutes and was concluded with a Pacific spashdown and subsequent recovery operations by the USS HORNET.

Captain Gordon has completed two space flights, logging a total of 315 hours and 53 minutes in space--2 hours and 44 minutes of which were spent in EVA.

He served as backup spacecraft commander for Apollo 15.

Captain Gordon retired from NASA and the USN in January 1972.

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