It is with great sadness that I inform you that Al Worden has died after a short illness aged 88.
As command module pilot for the Apollo 15 mission, he was one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon – orbiting it 74 times in the Endeavour spacecraft.
During his return to Earth, Al performed the first deep-space space walk (EVA) to retrieve film cassettes from the exterior of the spacecraft, as they would not otherwise have survived reentry.
The son of Merrill and Helen Worden, he was born on February 7, 1932.
Al grew up on a farm in Michigan and received his Bachelor of Science degree in military science from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1955, and Master of Science degree in astronautical/aeronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering from the University of Michigan, in 1963.
Al was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966 and was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 9 flight and as backup command module pilot for the Apollo 12 flight.
Al flew as Command Module pilot on the Apollo 15 mission with Commander, David Scott and Lunar Module Pilot, Jim Irwin. Apollo 15 was the fourth crewed lunar landing mission and the first to carry a lunar rover and visit and explore the Moon’s Hadley Rille and Montes Apenninus, which are located on the southeast edge of the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains).
Al was awarded two Guinness World Records at an event in a Joint Vixen International Events and British Interplanetary Society VIP evening in Oxford in 2015. His certificates were for: “First Deep-Space Spacewalk” and “Most Isolated Human” for his time alone, and further away from any other human, whilst orbiting the Moon on Endeavour [When the orbiting command module was at its greatest distance from Scott and Irwin in the Falcon, he was 2,235 miles away from any other human beings].
After retirement from NASA and active duty in 1975, he became president of Maris Worden Aerospace, and then vice president of Goodrich Aerospace in Ohio.
Al was also a great supporter of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and was chairman until 2011. The ASF is an initiative which provides scholarships to exceptional science and engineering students.
In his final years of life, Al launched an international initiative in his name with Kallman Worldwide. “The Al Worden Endeavour Scholarship” is a nation-to-nation education initiative to encourage young people to pursue careers as engineers and explorers and is a fitting legacy, going forward.
Ad Astra Al! x