Thomas P. Stafford
Former NASA Astronaut
Thomas P. Stafford flew on Gemini 6, the first space rendezvous mission, and Gemini 9; orbited the moon on Apollo 10, and commanded the American ship that linked in orbit with a Soviet craft during the Apollo-Soyuz flight. Stafford a Naval Academy graduate was an Air Force officer and test pilot until he was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1962. In December, 1965, he was pilot of Gemini 6 and he and Commander Wally Schirra flew the first space rendezvous mission, closing to within a foot of Gemini 7, with astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell aboard. He commanded Gemini 9, with Gene Cernan as pilot, in June, 1966, rendezvousing with an alternate docking target after the Atlas boosting their original Agena target failed. They were unable to dock with the alternate because a protective fiberglass shroud had failed to separate completely, but they flew three different types of rendezvous with it. Stafford commanded the Apollo 10 lunar orbit flight in May 1969, with John Young and Gene Cernan. He and Cernan separated the Lunar Module and approached to within 10 miles of the surface, paving the way for the Apollo 11 crew to make the first moon landing two months later. Stafford logged his fourth space mission as commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in July 1975. He, Deke Slayton, and Vance Brand linked in orbit with a Soyuz carrying cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Valery Kubasov. He has served as an advisor to a number of governmental agencies including NASA and the Air Force Systems Command. He was Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council Task Force on Shuttle-Mir Rendezvous and Docking Missions and Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council Task Force on the International Space Station Operational Readiness. Thomas Stafford was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on March 19, 1993.