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Ad Astra... LtGen Thomas Stafford (NASA astronaut 1930-2024)

  1. SpeedyPhill Founder Of Aussie Cricket Blog Mark Waugh Universe Mar 18, 2024

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    Another Apollo-era astronaut has passed away...
    March 18, 2024... former NASA astronaut LtGen Thomas P. Stafford passed away aged 93.
    R.I.P.
    :(
    Photos: NASA
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    zStafford.jpg
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  2. SpeedyPhill Founder Of Aussie Cricket Blog Mark Waugh Universe Mar 18, 2024

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    Already in High School, Thomas Stafford served in an Infantry Division & Artillery Bataillon before graduating from the Naval Academy but chosing a commission as 2ndLt in the USA Air Force. In September 1953, Stafford graduated from USAF pilot training.
    In 1958, Stafford attended the USAF Test Pilot School (class 58C) at Edwards AFB - California.... finishing first in his class. This is a 1959 graduation photo of Captain Stafford receiving the A.B. Honts award together with his first wife Faye.
    (Photo: USAF)
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    1958_USAF.jpg
     
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  3. SpeedyPhill Founder Of Aussie Cricket Blog Mark Waugh Universe Mar 18, 2024

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    In 1958, Stafford created a civilian Flight Instructor position at the US Air Force Test Pilot School , co-writing a few text books on flight research.
    In April 1962, he applied as a candidate astronaut and was accepted in NASA astronaut group 2 " The New Nine " in September 1962.
    In March 1965, Stafford was among the very first NASA astronauts to be issued a NASA Omega Speedmaster as backup for the Gemini III spaceflight mission (Virgil Grissom & John Young). The other backup^, Wlater Schirra, already owned his personal Omega Speedmaster CK2998.
    Selected with Wlater Schirra for the Gemini VI mission, it proved an exciting time as during a 2nd Gemini launch attempt (Gemini VI was renamed Gemini VIa) the launch vehicle's rocket engines only ignited with immediate shut-down... Emergency procedure was to use the ejection seats but Schirra & Stafford stayed with the Gemini capsule ontop a fully fueled launch vehicle !
    Thus saving the hardware for a good launch 3 days later... December 15, 1965...
    (Photos: NASA)
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    1965_Gem06_Stafford.jpg 1965_Gem06_Stafford-.jpg
     
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  4. SpeedyPhill Founder Of Aussie Cricket Blog Mark Waugh Universe Mar 18, 2024

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    Already before the Gemini VIa mission, Thomas Stafford was assigned as backup Commander for the 1966 Gemini IX mission... a mission which was also renamed Gemini IXa after a launch failure. Launch for Gemini IXa with Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan came on June 3, 1966 and the mission lasted 3 days 20 minutes.
    During the Gemini IXa mission, Cernan conducted an EVA spacewalk, for which he had to reach the backside of the Gemini capsule but excessive heat caused his heart beat had risen to 180 beats/minute and the EVA was cut short.
    Wrist-watch wise an interesting mission as Cernan was issued NASA speedmaster n° 28, which he would keep as a lucky charm and wear as a 2nd time piece under the space suit during Apollo 10 and Apollo 17.
    Images show Gemini IXa astronauts during splash-down & recovery by US Navy aircraft carrier USS Wasp...
    (Photos: NASA)
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    1965_Gem09_Stafford.jpg 1965_Gem09_Stafford-Wasp.jpg
     
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  5. SpeedyPhill Founder Of Aussie Cricket Blog Mark Waugh Universe Mar 18, 2024

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    In November 1968, NASA announced the prime crew for the Apollo 10 mission, which would "snoop" around above the lunar surface... with Commander Thomas "Tom" Stafford, LMP Eugene Cernan and CMP John Young.
    Apollo 10 launched on May, 1969 and lasted 8 days 3 minutes. Onboard Lunar Module "Snoopy" , Stafford and Cernan flew at an altitude of 14 kilometers above the lunar surface while Young awaited in CSM "Charlie Brown". On May 23, 1969, after docking, "Snoopy" was released & jettisoned and half-a-century later "Snoopy" was spotted & confirmed as a Near Earth Object by the Faulkes North & South telescopes ( Hawaii & Siding Spring Australia).
    (Photos: NASA)
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    1969_Stafford.jpg
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    1969_Stafford-MWU.jpg
     
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  6. SpeedyPhill Founder Of Aussie Cricket Blog Mark Waugh Universe Mar 18, 2024

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    In July 1975, Tom Stafford was Commander of the historic ASTP - Apollo Soyuz Test Project spaceflight mission, during which an Apollo CSM carrying a docking adapter, joined with a Soviet-Russian Soyuz space capsule. Both craft remained docked for 47 hours of which 44 hours of joined activities during which cosmonauts visited the Apollo and astronauts the Soyuz capsule.
    During ASTP a total of 11 NASA-issued Omega Speedmaster chronographs were worn (Russians wore 861 models with Leonov wearing 2 but carried a third) and Thomas Stafford wearing NASA numbers 76 & 79 Speedmaster 145.012 versions.
    During the mission, the "Speedies" were very well documented and Stafford often explicitly showed his towards the photo cameras...
    (Photo: NASA)
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    1975_ASTP-Stafford.jpg
     
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  7. SpeedyPhill Founder Of Aussie Cricket Blog Mark Waugh Universe Mar 18, 2024

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    Tom Stafford became USAF Brig General in 1974, Maj General in 1975 and Lt General in April 1978. In November 1979, USAF LtGeneral Thomas Stafford became member of USA Omega Corporate Board of Directors and has been an important Omega ambassador" !
    In 2002, Stafford published his Gemini & Apollo astronaut memoirs in " We have Capture "
    In 2004, Stafford was named " Ambassador of Exploration " by NASA.
    Ending with a few official portraits (remember these are always made in a "smiling" and a "serious" version!)
    Photos: NASA
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    Stafford-1-NASA.jpg Stafford-2-NASA.jpg
     
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  8. pdxleaf ... Mar 18, 2024

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    Great guy, well deserving of a long, well-lived life.
     
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  9. Waltesefalcon Mar 18, 2024

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    That's sad news. He had a heck of a good run though.

    The Stafford Air and Space Museum up in Weatherford has some really good displays of artifacts from his life. They have a quite extensive collection of things from the Apollo Soyuz mission. I'll try to find some photos from the last time I was there.
     
  10. Waltesefalcon Mar 18, 2024

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    Tom Stafford is from Weatherford, Oklahoma just a little over an hour north of where I live. The local airport is named for him and houses the Thomas Stafford Air and Space Museum.

    I apologize for the poor quality of many of these photos. These are from when I visited the museum with my mother and daughter in 2017. Up first is his flight suit from preparation for Gemini VI and Gemini IX:
    IMG_20170312_134947549_HDR.jpg
    Next up, his pocket knife and Speedmaster (sadly, the watch is hard to see) from Gemini IX:
    IMG_20170312_134547642.jpg
    His space suit from Apollo X:
    IMG_20170312_135315997_HDR.jpg
    One of the flight practice garments from Apollo-Soyuz
    IMG_20170312_135734742.jpg
    Some of the gifts and medals from Apollo-Soyuz:
    IMG_20170312_135758729_HDR.jpg
    A docking module simulator panel from training for the Apollo-Soyuz mission:
    IMG_20170312_135355212_HDR.jpg
     
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  11. SpeedyPhill Founder Of Aussie Cricket Blog Mark Waugh Universe Mar 19, 2024

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    Thomas Stafford leaving USS Wasp in a Grumman S-2 Tracker post-Gemini VIa recovery...
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    1966-ThomasStafford.jpg
     
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  12. befobe Mar 19, 2024

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    @SpeedyPhill
    Thanks for your posts, your pics collection is always a pleasure and so impressive!
     
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  13. JimInOz Melbourne Australia Mar 19, 2024

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    Probably thinking "re-entry was quieter than this bloody machine!".

    :D
     
  14. pdxleaf ... Mar 19, 2024

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    Maybe it's a Navy thing. Reminds me of @Mad Dog.
     
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  15. jsducote Mar 19, 2024

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    Gen. Stafford (wearing an X-33) signing "We Have Capture" for me at the Air & Space Museum, 2002:

    20240319_110930.jpg

    I remember that day very clearly, as I had been flown to DC for my (now ex-)wife's holiday party, but sped immediately from the airport to the Air & Space for the signing event instead. Photographed by a very kind docent who then mailed me (pre-digital) the photograph.
     
  16. SpeedyPhill Founder Of Aussie Cricket Blog Mark Waugh Universe Mar 20, 2024

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