Apollo astronaut Tom Stafford passes away at 93

Apollo 10 astronaut Tom Stafford, who also flew two Gemini missions as well as the Apollo-Soyuz mission, passed away yesterday at the age of 93.

Stafford’s first flight was on Gemini 6, which achieved the first rendezvous in space when it maneuvered close to Gemini 7 during its two week mission. He then flew on Gemini 9, which was to attempt the first docking but was stymied when the shroud on the Agena target vehicle failed to release, blocking the docking port. The crew could only rendezvous again.

Stafford then commanded Apollo 10, the dress rehearsal for the lunar landing, flying his lunar module to within about ten miles of the Moon’s surface. His final mission was Apollo-Soyuz, the first joint mission between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Of the 24 Apollo astronauts that flew to the Moon, only seven still live. A truly great generation of Americans, possibly the greatest generation of all, is slowly leaving us.