NASA Pioneer Passes Away

NASA officials report this week that former Gemini and Apollo astronaut Richard Gordon has passed away.

He was 88 years old.

Gordon reportedly died at his home in California.

In a statement, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said, "NASA and the nation have lost one of our early space pioneers. We send our condolences to the family and loved ones of Gemini and Apollo astronaut Richard Gordon, a hero from NASA’s third class of astronauts."

Gordon was described as "naval officer, aviator, chemist, test pilot, and astronaut," as well as a "talented and daring explorer," by Lightfoot. 

Gordon piloted Gemini Eleven in 1966 and was the pilot of Apollo XII command module Yankee Clipper.

During the Apollo XII mission, the second to land men on the moon, Gordon piloted the Yankee Clipper through lunar orbit while his two crewmates, Pete Conrad and Alan Bean, landed in the Ocean of Storms.

Gordon not only kept the command module healthy for the return home, but he also took photos for potential future landing sites and later performed final re-docking maneuvers.

Gordon was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. 

He retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy in January 1972, holding the rank of Captain.  

He later wore many hats in the private sector, including a stint as Executive Vice President of the New Orleans Saints Professional Football Club in the National Football League.

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