NASA Astronaut Dick Gordon Has Died At Age 88

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Former Apollo 12 astronaut Richard Gordon, one of a dozen men who flew around the moon but never landed there, has died, NASA announced Tuesday.

Gordon served with Fighter Squadron 121 at Miramar Naval Air Station as a flight instructor in the F4H and took part in the introduction of that aircraft to the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, said

Gordon, whose death was announced by NASA Tuesday, was one of only two dozen men to fly to the moon, making the trip as a member of the crew on the second lunar landing mission in 1969.

He was in the third group of astronauts named in 1963 and completed his first mission aboard Gemini 11 in 1966. He went on to be an executive for energy and science companies.

Gordon was born in Seattle on Oct. 5, 1929.

Gordon had two spacewalks - at a time when NASA still hadn't mastered them. Gordon labored somewhat alarmingly outside the capsule - breathing heavily and sweating profusely.

"Alright. Just rest. You've got plenty of time". There were no handholds or places to pin his feet, and he kept floating away from the spacecraft.

NASA made it to the moon by the end of the 1960s because it overcame and learned from obstacles like this one.

For 42 hours, he was by himself and said he loved it. When he wasn't busy conducting experiments and taking pictures, he enjoyed the solitude - especially as he looked back at the planet: "Makes you think about the fragility of our Earth and the things we do to it to make you realize how fragile it is". During the Apollo 12 mission in November 1969, Gordon circled the moon in the command module Yankee Clipper while Alan Bean and Charles Conrad landed the lunar module Intrepid and walked on the moon's surface.

"NASA and the nation have lost one of our early space pioneers." said Robert Lightfoot, the acting NASA Administrator, in a statement on Gordon's passing.