Former NASA astronaut
Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Stafford, USAF (Ret.) received a commemorative
moon rock as part of NASA's Ambassador of Exploration program at
1400 EDT Tuesday. NASA presented the lunar sample to him at the
Thomas P. Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford,
The program honors the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts who
made lunar landings from 1969 to 1972. The awards remain the
property of NASA; however, each lunar sample will be on long-term
loan to the museum or learning institution of the recipient's
choice. His sample will be on long-term loan to the Stafford museum
Stafford has a long military and aviation history, receiving his
pilot wings in September 1953. He became a fighter pilot and by
1959 had graduated as the outstanding graduate at the Air Force
Experimental Flight Test Pilot School. He became an instructor, and
authored various text books and handbooks before selected for the
space program in 1962.
Stafford conducted the first rendezvous in space as pilot of
Gemini VI in 1965. He commanded Gemini IX in 1966 and demonstrated
three different types of rendezvous, one of which was later used in
the Apollo program.
He was heavily involved in the planning for the Apollo missions,
and was the commander of Apollo 10 in May of 1969. He performed the
first rendezvous around the Moon and descended to within 9 miles of
the lunar surface while testing the lunar landing module. He
selected the site for the first landing that occurred with Apollo
11, two months later.
Stafford was assigned as the head of the astronaut group in June
1969, and became responsible for Apollo and Skylab crew selections.
He became Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations at the NASA
Manned Spacecraft Center in 1971.
He was the Apollo commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
(ASTP) mission, July 1975, for the first meeting in space between
astronauts and cosmonauts. He became the commander of the Air Force
Flight Test Center in November 1975.
Stafford became Deputy Chief of Staff, Research Development and
Acquisition, Headquarters USAF, in 1978. He was involved in the
development of the F-117A Stealth Fighter and the initial
development of the specs for the B-2. Bomber. General Stafford
retired from the Air Force in November 1979.
He has served as an advisor to the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration and the Air Force Systems Command. He has
chaired numerous governmental committees including, the Operational
Oversight Committee to service and repair the Hubble Telescope, the
Shuttle-MIR Independent Oversight Review Committee and the
International Space Station Independent Oversight Review Committee
for Safety and Operational Readiness.
He has also served as Co-Chairman of the Independent NASA
Oversight Committee for the Shuttle Return to Flight.