Thomas P. Stafford

  • Gemini 6 (1965 )
  • Gemini 9 (1966)
  • Apollo 10 (1969 )
  • ASTP (1975)

Thomas Patten "Tom" Stafford ( born September 17, 1930 in Weatherford, Oklahoma, United States ) is a former American astronaut.

Following the High School Stafford graduated from the Naval Academy in Maryland and earned an engineering degree in 1952 with honors. He joined the U.S. Air Force and was trained on the Connally Air Force Base in Texas to the pilot. After basic training, he successfully completed in September 1953, he received a course interceptor and was on duty at a unit in South Dakota.

In December 1955 Stafford was transferred overseas and was for three years in the Federal Republic. On the now-closed Hahn Air Base in the Rhein- Hunsrück-Kreis he was a pilot and squadron commander of the 496th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.

Back in the USA came to California in Stafford on the Edwards Air Force Base ( EAFB ). As of August 1958, he was educated at the Experimental Flight Test Pilot School. His test pilot license he acquired in April of the following year, coupled with an award as best in class. He remained as an instructor at the EAFB and was promoted to Head of Vehicle Performance Division later.

Astronauts activity

Stafford had just finished the test pilot training, as the first U.S. astronauts were selected in April 1959. To become an astronaut appealed to him, so he submitted his application papers, hardly that the second group was put together. At the same time he wanted to get into the Air Force and be trained at Harvard Business School, because management personnel was required. He also managed to get a few of the USAF places. On his third day at school, he received the message from Houston that he was accepted as an astronaut. He decided to give up studying economics in favor of a spaceman career.

Stafford came in September 1962 as a member of the second group of astronauts for NASA. Three years later, in December 1965, he began as a pilot of Gemini 6, with Walter Schirra into space. The main task was the first rendezvous of two manned spacecraft in Earth orbit. Successful approached you look at the previously launched spacecraft Gemini 7 to about forty yards and kept this position five and a half hours at.

Only half a year later, Stafford earned his second spaceflight. He was moved up to the crew of Gemini 9 because the originally designated astronauts were killed in a crash. Together with his pilot Eugene Cernan he led in June 1966 by rendezvous with a target satellite previously started. The planned coupling it did not come because the lining had not been resolved by the satellite.

As part of the Apollo program, Stafford was involved in the mission planning. He also coached in several replacement crews for canceled Apollo flights before it was set up after the disaster of Apollo 1 as a replacement pilot of Apollo 7.

Two months before the first manned moon landing was Stafford commander of Apollo 10 - Apollo 11 dress rehearsal. Together with John Young and Eugene Cernan, he tested in May 1969 for the first time, the lunar module in orbit of the moon.

Following his third flight Stafford first headed the astronaut office and thus became the successor of Alan Shepard, who was preparing for his flight to the moon. After Shepard's return in June 1971 was Stafford Deputy Flight Crew Operations Directorate, which is also responsible for the training of astronauts. This position he gave up when he received an assignment to a space flight again.

His fourth and final space flight took Stafford as a participant of the first Soviet -US coupling flight in July 1975. He commanded the ASTP company the Apollo spacecraft. This docked with Soviet Soyuz 19 and remained associated with it for almost two days.

According to the NASA

After this nine-day space flight Stafford ended his astronaut career. He returned to EAFB back, his last place of activity, before he went to NASA. For three years he led the flight test center. Then he moved to Washington, D.C. and became Deputy USAF Chief of Staff for Research and Development.

In November 1979, Stafford left the U.S. Air Force and was a manager in the private sector. He was, for example, the board of OMEGA watches or the Bendix Corporation. He advised to continue the USAF and NASA as well as Ronald Reagan during his presidential campaign in matters of national defense. In June 1990, he was appointed as chairman of a committee which had to investigate the future possibilities of manned spaceflight.

Special features and Records

  • Highest speed that have reached people ( 39,897 km / h, along with John Young and Eugene Cernan from Apollo 10)
  • Stafford was on July 3, 1971 one of the pallbearers at the state funeral at the landing of Soyuz 11 cosmonauts who died Dobrovolsky, Volkov and Pazajew.


Tom Stafford was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1997.