Thomas Patten Stafford
Thomas Patten Stafford (born September 17, 1930) is a retired American Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 lieutenant general
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 and former NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

. He flew aboard two Gemini
Project Gemini
Project Gemini was the second human spaceflight program of NASA, the civilian space agency of the United States government. Project Gemini was conducted between projects Mercury and Apollo, with ten manned flights occurring in 1965 and 1966....

 space flights; and in 1969 was the commander of Apollo 10
Apollo 10
Apollo 10 was the fourth manned mission in the American Apollo space program. It was an F type mission—its purpose was to be a "dry run" for the Apollo 11 mission, testing all of the procedures and components of a Moon landing without actually landing on the Moon itself. The mission included the...

, the second manned mission to orbit the Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 and the first to fly a lunar module there.

In 1975, Stafford was commander of the Apollo-Soyuz flight, the first joint US-Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 space mission. A brigadier general at the time, he became the first general officer to fly in space. He was the first member of his Naval Academy class to pin on the first, second and third stars of a general officer.

He made six rendezvous in space and logged 507 hours of space flight. He has flown over 120 different types of aircraft and helicopters and three different types of spacecraft.

Early years

Stafford was born September 17, 1930, in Weatherford, Oklahoma
Weatherford, Oklahoma
Weatherford is a city in Custer County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 10,833 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Weatherford is located at , elevation 1,647 feet ....

, where he graduated from Weatherford High School in 1948. He graduated with honors in 1952 from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Maryland, as well as the county seat of Anne Arundel County. It had a population of 38,394 at the 2010 census and is situated on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River, south of Baltimore and about east of Washington, D.C. Annapolis is...

, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

. He received his pilot wings at Connally AFB, Waco, Texas
Waco, Texas
Waco is a city in and the county seat of McLennan County, Texas. Situated along the Brazos River and on the I-35 corridor, halfway between Dallas and Austin, it is the economic, cultural, and academic center of the 'Heart of Texas' region....

, in September 1953. He completed advanced interceptor training and was assigned to the 54th Flight Interceptor Squadron, Ellsworth AFB, Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City is the second-largest city in the U.S. state of South Dakota, and the county seat of Pennington County. Named after Rapid Creek on which the city is established, it is set against the eastern slope of the Black Hills mountain range. The population was 67,956 as of the 2010 Census. Rapid...

. In December 1955 he was assigned to the 496th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Hahn Air Base
Hahn Air Base
Hahn Air Base was a frontline NATO facility in Germany for over 40 years during the Cold War...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, where he performed the duties of pilot, flight leader, and flight test maintenance office, flying F-86Ds
F-86 Sabre
The North American F-86 Sabre was a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as America's first swept wing fighter which could counter the similarly-winged Soviet MiG-15 in high speed dogfights over the skies of the Korean War...


He was an instructor in flight test training and specialized academic subjects-establishing basic textbooks and directing the writing of flight test manuals for use by the staff and students. He is co-author of the Pilot's Handbook for Performance Flight Testing and the Aerodynamics Handbook for Performance Flight Testing.

NASA career

Stafford was selected among the second group of NASA astronauts
Astronaut Group 2
NASA's Astronaut Group 2, also known as The New Nine, was the second group of astronauts selected by NASA in September 1962. The group was required to augment the original Mercury 7 with the announcement of the Gemini program and leading to the Apollo program...

 in September 1962 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to participate in Projects Gemini and Apollo.

Project Gemini

Stafford was originally scheduled to fly with veteran astronaut Alan Shepard
Alan Shepard
Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. was an American naval aviator, test pilot, flag officer, and NASA astronaut who in 1961 became the second person, and the first American, in space. This Mercury flight was designed to enter space, but not to achieve orbit...

 on the first manned Gemini mission, Gemini 3. But when Shepard was removed from the flight rotation due to an inner ear problem, Stafford was reassigned to back up pilot for that mission. In December 1965, he piloted Gemini VI
Gemini 6A
-Backup crew:-Mission parameters:* Mass: * Perigee: * Apogee: * Inclination: 28.97°* Period: 88.7 min-Stationkeeping with GT-7:* Start: December 15, 1965 19:33 UTC* End: December 16, 1965 00:52 UTC-Objectives:...

 during the first rendezvous in space, and helped develop techniques to prove the basic theory and practicality of a space rendezvous
Space rendezvous
A space rendezvous is an orbital maneuver during which two spacecraft, one of which is often a space station, arrive at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance . Rendezvous requires a precise match of the orbital velocities of the two spacecraft, allowing them to remain at a constant...


In June 1966 he commanded Gemini IX
Gemini 9A
- Backup crew :- Original primary crew :- Mission parameters :* Mass: * Perigee: * Apogee: * Inclination: 28.91°* Period: 88.78 min- 1st rendezvous :* June 3, 1966 - 17:45 - 18:00 UTC- Spacewalk :* Cernan...

 with Eugene Cernan due to the deaths of prime crew members Charlie Bassett
Charles Bassett
Charles Arthur "Art" Bassett, II was an American engineer and United States Air Force officer. He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 1963 and assigned to Gemini 9 but died in an airplane crash during training for his first spaceflight.-Early life and education:Bassett was born in Dayton, Ohio,...

 and Elliot See. He performed a demonstration of an early rendezvous that would be used in Apollo 10
Apollo 10
Apollo 10 was the fourth manned mission in the American Apollo space program. It was an F type mission—its purpose was to be a "dry run" for the Apollo 11 mission, testing all of the procedures and components of a Moon landing without actually landing on the Moon itself. The mission included the...

: the first optical rendezvous; and a lunar orbit
Lunar orbit
In astronomy, lunar orbit refers to the orbit of an object around the Moon.As used in the space program, this refers not to the orbit of the Moon about the Earth, but to orbits by various manned or unmanned spacecraft around the Moon...

 abort rendezvous. Until the launch of STS-94
STS-94 was a mission of the United States Space Shuttle Columbia, launched on 1 July 1997.-Crew:-Mission parameters:*Mass:**Orbiter Landing with payload: **MSL-1 Spacelab Module: *Perigee: *Apogee:...

 in 1997 he held the record for the briefest duration between spaceflights, at 5 months 19 days.

Project Apollo

From August 1966 to October 1968, he headed the mission planning analysis and software development responsibilities for the astronaut group for Project Apollo
Project Apollo
The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration , that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F...


Stafford was the lead member of the group which helped formulate the sequence of missions leading to the first lunar landing mission. He demonstrated and implemented the theory of a pilot manually flying the Saturn
Saturn (rocket family)
The Saturn family of American rocket boosters was developed by a team of mostly German rocket scientists led by Wernher von Braun to launch heavy payloads to Earth orbit and beyond. Originally proposed as a military satellite launcher, they were adopted as the launch vehicles for the Apollo moon...

 booster into orbit and the translunar injection maneuver.

Stafford also was largely responsible for NASA adopting color television for its spaceflights. Apollo 10 had planned to be slow-scan black-and-white, but Stafford was determined to let the American public share in the beauty of the missions they were funding. The development of a sequential color television system by Westinghouse caught his attention and in the early days of 1969, the demonstration made for him was the catalyst for his pushing NASA to adopt the color format. Once NASA saw how much publicity the color TV pictures generated, the format became standard on all subsequent missions (bar Apollo 11's lunar surface TV camera - which was not flight-approved for color).
Stafford was commander of Apollo 10
Apollo 10
Apollo 10 was the fourth manned mission in the American Apollo space program. It was an F type mission—its purpose was to be a "dry run" for the Apollo 11 mission, testing all of the procedures and components of a Moon landing without actually landing on the Moon itself. The mission included the...

 in May 1969, which included the first flight of the lunar module during a Moon orbit, the first rendezvous while in the Moon environment, and the entire lunar landing mission except for the actual landing. He also did reconnaissance and evaluation of future landing sites for Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...


Stafford and his crewmates, John Young and Gene Cernan, were cited in the Guinness Book of World Records for the highest speed ever attained by man—during Apollo 10's return from the Moon, the spacecraft reached 24,791 statute miles per hour.

He was assigned as head of the NASA Astronaut Corps in June 1969, responsible for the selection of flight crews for projects Apollo and Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

. He reviewed and monitored flight crew training status reports, and was responsible for coordination, scheduling, and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts.

In June 1971, Stafford was assigned as Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations at the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center. He was responsible for assisting the director in planning and implementation of programs for the astronaut group, the Aircraft Operations, Flight Crew Integration, Flight Crew Procedures, and Crew Simulation and Training Divisions. Also in 1971, Stafford served as a pallbearer
A pall-bearer is one of several funeral participants who helps carry the casket of a deceased person from a religious or memorial service or viewing either directly to a cemetery or mausoleum, or to and from the hearse which carries the coffin....

 for the crew of the ill-fated Soyuz 11
Soyuz 11
Soyuz 11 was the first manned mission to arrive at the world's first space station, Salyut 1. The mission arrived at the space station on June 7, 1971 and departed on June 30, 1971. The mission ended in disaster when the crew capsule depressurized during preparations for re-entry, killing the...


Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

He logged his fourth space flight as Apollo commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
-Backup crew:-Crew notes:Jack Swigert had originally been assigned as the command module pilot for the ASTP prime crew, but prior to the official announcement he was removed as punishment for his involvement in the Apollo 15 postage stamp scandal.-Soyuz crew:...

 (ASTP) mission, July 15–24, 1975—a joint space flight culminating in the historic first meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. He earned the Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings.

Post-NASA career

Stafford assumed command of the Air Force Flight Test Center
Air Force Flight Test Center
The Air Force Flight Test Center conducts research, development, test, and evaluation of aerospace systems from concept to deployment. It has test flown every aircraft in the U.S. Air Force's inventory since World War II...

 November 4, 1975. He was promoted to the rank of major general August 9, 1975, with date of rank of June 1, 1973.

Promoted to rank of lieutenant general on March 15, 1978, he assumed duties as Deputy Chief of Staff, Research Development and Acquisition, Headquarters USAF, Washington, DC, on May 1, 1978. He retired from the Air Force in November 1979.

In June 1990, Vice President Quayle
Dan Quayle
James Danforth "Dan" Quayle served as the 44th Vice President of the United States, serving with President George H. W. Bush . He served as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from the state of Indiana....

 and Admiral Richard Truly, then the NASA administrator, asked Stafford to chair a committee to independently advise NASA how to carry out President George H.W. Bush's vision of returning to the Moon, this time to stay, and then go on to explore Mars. Stafford assembled teams of 40 full-time and 150 part-time members from the DOD, DOE and NASA, and completed the study called America at the Threshold, a road map for the next 30 years of the U.S. manned space flight program. Stafford and Vice President Quayle held a news conference at the White House in June 1991 to announce the recommendations to the public.

He co-founded the technical consulting firm of Stafford, Burke, and Hecker, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

. He sits on the board of directors of six corporations listed on the New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

, one listed on the American Exchange, and two others, including Seagate Technology
Seagate Technology
Seagate Technology is one of the world's largest manufacturers of hard disk drives. Incorporated in 1978 as Shugart Technology, Seagate is currently incorporated in Dublin, Ireland and has its principal executive offices in Scotts Valley, California, United States.-1970s:On November 1, 1979...

, Inc., the largest independent hard disk drive maker in the world. He has served as an advisor to a number of governmental agencies including NASA and the Air Force Systems Command
Air Force Systems Command
Air Force Systems Command is a former United States Air Force command. Its headquarters was located at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland...

. He was a defense advisor to Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 during the 1980 presidential campaign and a member of the Reagan transition team. He has also served as spokesman for Omega watches.

He served on the National Research Council
United States National Research Council
The National Research Council of the USA is the working arm of the United States National Academies, carrying out most of the studies done in their names.The National Academies include:* National Academy of Sciences...

's Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board; the Committee on NASA Scientific and Technological Program Reviews, and Vice President Quayle's Space Policy Advisory Council. He was Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council Task Force on Shuttle-Mir Rendezvous and Docking Missions, and the NASA Advisory Council Task Force on ISS
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 Operational Readiness. He is an Honorary board member of the humanitarian organization, Wings of Hope
Wings of Hope (charity)
Founded in 1962, Wings of Hope is the oldest and largest volunteer, humanitarian, aviation based charity in the world. Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, they organize and maintain over 3,000 volunteers in 154 bases in 45 countries. Wings of Hope is strictly humanitarian, meaning they have no...


Stafford wrote the epilogue of the book Falling to Earth: An Apollo 15 Astronaut's Journey to the Moon by fellow Apollo astronaut Al Worden.


Stafford's first wife was the former Faye L. Shoemaker. They had two daughters, Dionne Kay, and Karin Elaine. They also have two grandsons, Thomas P. Stafford II and Andrew Alexi Harrison. He later married the former Linda Ann Dishman of Chelsea, Oklahoma
Chelsea, Oklahoma
Chelsea is a town in Rogers County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 2,136 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Chelsea is located at . According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all of it land....

. They have two sons, Michael Thomas, and Stanslav "Stas" Patten. Linda has two children from a previous marriage, Kassie Neering and Mark Hill, and four grandchildren: Sloane, Lee, Marcus, and Tara.

Stafford enjoys hunting, scuba diving, fishing, and swimming. He recently moved from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City is the capital and the largest city in the state of Oklahoma. The county seat of Oklahoma County, the city ranks 31st among United States cities in population. The city's population, from the 2010 census, was 579,999, with a metro-area population of 1,252,987 . In 2010, the Oklahoma...

, to Florida.

Honors and awards

Stafford's military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award ribbon with three oak leaf clusters.

Other awards presented to Stafford include the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

, NASA Distinguished Service Medal
NASA Distinguished Service Medal
The NASA Distinguished Service Medal is the highest award which may be bestowed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States...

 with oak leaf cluster, NASA Exceptional Service Medal
NASA Exceptional Service Medal
The NASA Exceptional Service Medal is an award granted to U.S. government employees for significant sustained performance characterized by unusual initiative or creative ability that clearly demonstrates substantial improvement in engineering, aeronautics, space flight, administration, support, or...

 with oak leaf cluster, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Chanute Flight Award (1976), the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Space Award, National Geographic Society's General Thomas D. White USAF Space Trophy (1975), and the Federal Aeronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal. In 1966 he was corecipient of the AIAA Award, and in 1969 he received the National Academy of Television Arts and Science Special Trustees Award.

Stafford received the Harmon International Aviation Trophy twice—in 1966 for piloting Gemini 6, and in 1976 trophy was presented jointly to Stafford and comonaut Alexei Leonov for their work on ASTP.

In 1979, Stafford was awarded the Society of Experimental Test Pilots
Society of Experimental Test Pilots
The Society of Experimental Test Pilots is an international organization that seeks to promote air safety and contributes to aeronautical advancement by promoting sound aeronautical design and development; interchanging ideas, thoughts and suggestions of the members, assisting in the professional...

 James H. Doolittle Award
James H. Doolittle Award
The James H. Doolittle Award is an honor presented annually by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. It is an award for "outstanding accomplishment in technical management or engineering achievement in aerospace technology". The award consists of a perpetual trophy on permanent display at SETP...

. On January 19, 1993 he received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor
Congressional Space Medal of Honor
The Congressional Space Medal of Honor was authorized by the United States Congress in 1969 to recognize "any astronaut who in the performance of his duties has distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and mankind." The highest award...


He is the recipient of several honorary degrees. These include a doctorate of science from Oklahoma City University; a doctorate of laws, Western State University, Gunnison, Colo.; a doctorate of communications, Emerson College, Boston, Mass.; and a doctorate of aeronautical engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a private university in the US specializing in aviation and aerospace engineering. It teaches the science, practice, and business of aviation and aerospace. Called "The Harvard of the Sky" by Time Magazine in 1979, Embry-Riddle has a history dating back to...

, Daytona Beach, Fla.


Stafford is heavily honored in his hometown of Weatherford
Weatherford, Oklahoma
Weatherford is a city in Custer County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 10,833 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Weatherford is located at , elevation 1,647 feet ....

, including his name being on the local airport, Thomas P. Stafford Airport
Thomas P. Stafford Airport
Thomas P. Stafford Airport is a city-owned public-use airport located two miles northeast of the central business district of Weatherford, a city in Custer County, Oklahoma, United States.- Facilities and aircraft :...

, and The Stafford Air & Space Museum
Stafford Air & Space Museum
The Stafford Air & Space Museum is located in Weatherford, Oklahoma, USA. The museum features exhibits about aviation, space exploration and rocketry, and a collection of over 20 historic aircraft...


In media

Stafford played himself in the 1974 TV movie Houston, We've Got a Problem
Houston, We've Got a Problem
Houston, We've Got a Problem is a 1974 television film about the Apollo 13 spaceflight, directed by Lawrence Doheny and starring Ed Nelson in the role of NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz....

. In the 1996 TV movie Apollo 11 he was played by Tony Carlin. In the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon he was played by Steve Hofvendahl.

British rock band
Rock Band
Rock Band is a music video game developed by Harmonix Music Systems, published by MTV Games and Electronic Arts. It is the first title in the Rock Band series. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were released in the United States on November 20, 2007, while the PlayStation 2 version was...

 New Model Army
New Model Army (band)
New Model Army are an English rock band, who were formed in Bradford, West Yorkshire in 1980. They have been variously classified by Allmusic as post-punk and alternative rock.-Overview:...

 has quoted Stafford in the lyrics
Lyrics are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of...

 to their song "Space" included on their fifth studio album Impurity in 1990.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.