Monday, March 18, 2024

NASA Astronaut Thomas Stafford: Commander of First U.S.-Russian Space Mission

NASA Astronaut Thomas Stafford: Commander of First U.S.-Russian Space Mission

Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford: Official NASA Portrait (April 12, 1972)

Apollo 10 Lunar Orbit Mission: Left to right, are Eugene A. Cernan, lunar module pilot; John W. Young, command module pilot; and Thomas P. Stafford, commander. In the background is the Apollo 10 space vehicle on Pad B, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, Florida (May 13, 1969)

Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, Apollo 9 commander, is suited up at the Kennedy Space Center for a Countdown Demonstration Test (May 13, 1969)

Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, Gemini-6 prime crew pilot, is pictured onboard the NASA Motor Vessel Retriever in the Gulf of Mexico during water egress training (August 23, 1965)
Astronauts Thomas P. Stafford (foreground), command pilot, and Eugene A. Cernan, pilot, walk up the ramp at Pad 19 during the Gemini-9A prelaunch countdown (June 3, 1966)
Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, command pilot of the Gemini-9 prime crew, undergoes familiarization training with the Gemini-9 spacecraft at the McDonnell plant in St. Louis (February 8, 1966)

Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, pilot, is pictured in the Gemini-6 spacecraft in the White Room atop Pad 19 prior to the closing of the hatches during the Gemini-6 prelaunch countdown. In the background (partially out of view) is astronaut Walter M. Schirra Jr., command pilot.

Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford (left) and cosmonaut Aleksey A. Leonov participate in Apollo-Soyuz Test Project joint crew training in Building 35 at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Stafford and Leonov are the commanders of their respective prime crews. They are in the Soviet Soyuz Orbital Module mock-up.

NASA statement: "We are mourning the passing of Thomas P. Stafford at the age of 93 (September 17, 1930—March 18, 2024). In December 1965, Stafford piloted Gemini VI, the first rendezvous in space, and helped develop techniques to prove the basic theory and practicality of space rendezvous. 

Later he commanded Gemini IX and performed a demonstration of an early rendezvous that would be used in the Apollo lunar missions, the first optical rendezvous, and a lunar orbit abort rendezvous. 

He served as the commander of the Apollo 10 ‘dress rehearsal’ mission preparing for the first Moon landing and as Apollo commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission, a joint space flight culminating in the historic first meeting in space between American Astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts, which ended the International space race.

Throughout his career, Stafford helped us push the boundaries of what's possible in air and space, flying more than 100 different types of aircraft."

Former NASA Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford - Official NASA Biography:

Image Credit: NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC)

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