Don Lind, a former NASA astronaut who helped plan humanity’s first moonwalk earlier than launching on the space shuttle, has died on the age of 92.
Lind’s death on Tuesday (opens in new tab) (Aug. 30) was first reported by the Herald Journal in Logan, Utah.
“Don is as close to the true ‘Renaissance Man’ — Leonardo da Vinci’s ideal of a man who could do everything and do it well — as exists in our day and age,” his household wrote in an obituary (opens in new tab) issued on Friday (Sep. 2).
Lind turned an astronaut with the “Original Nineteen,” NASA’s fifth group of trainees, chosen in 1966. The class included eight astronauts who flew to the moon, together with two future Apollo moonwalkers.
“The original plans were to make 10 landings on the moon, Apollo 11 through Apollo 20, and we were building command modules and Saturn V [rockets] and all the equipment for 10 landings. Then Washington, in their infinite wisdom, reduced the budget and canceled the last three flights to the moon, and I did not get to go to the moon,” stated Lind in a 2005 NASA oral history (opens in new tab). “That was an incredible professional disappointment. But, you simply gird up your loins and press on, since you have no other options.”
Related: The Apollo program: How NASA sent astronauts to the moon
Instead of going to the moon himself, Lind labored on planning the lunar floor operations for the astronauts who did. He examined the spacesuits, instruments and science packages that the Apollo moonwalkers would use and deploy.
“I don’t say this boasting, but I knew more about what Neil [Armstrong] and Buzz [Aldrin] were supposed to do on the first mission and Pete [Conrad] and Al [Bean] were supposed to do on the second mission than they did,” stated Lind.
That data landed him a seat in Mission Control through the first two moon touchdown missions, Apollo 11 and Apollo 12. As a capcom (capsule communicator), Lind was only a radio name away if one thing went flawed.
“I could simply step forward, pick up the microphone and talk them through the procedures that I had tested,” he stated.
Lind’s probability to be on the opposite aspect of the road got here greater than a decade after the final astronaut stepped off the moon.
“I set a record. No one has waited for a spaceflight longer than I have. I hope nobody ever has to do that,” stated Lind. “There were long delays, and so, yes, it was 19 years before I got to fly.”
On April 29, 1985, Lind lifted off as an STS-51B mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger. Given that two of Lind’s six crewmates have been additionally Apollo-era astronauts, the typical age of the crew was 48.6 — the oldest for an American space mission.
The mission additionally marked the second flight of the European-built Spacelab laboratory module and the primary to hold a full complement of science experiments — together with the primary animal check topics.
“We had two cute little squirrel monkeys and 24 less-than-cute laboratory rats. The squirrel monkeys adapted very quickly,” Lind advised the NASA interviewer. “The laboratory rats were not quite as savvy as the monkeys. They had also been on vibration tables and acoustical chambers and that sort of thing. But they hadn’t learned that this was going to last a while, and when we got [into the module], they were hanging onto the edge of the cage and looking very apprehensive.”
“After about the second day, they finally found out if they’d let go of the screen, they wouldn’t fall, and they probably enjoyed the rest of the mission,” he stated.
Related: Space shuttle: The first reusable spacecraft
As for himself, he had no problem adjusting to life in microgravity.
“Thoroughly enjoyed it,” stated Lind. “It was a wonderful experience.”
In addition to conducting the analysis NASA had deliberate, Lind additionally proposed and carried out his personal experiment, taking the primary clear pictures of the aurora borealis (“Northern Lights”) from space. All that he wanted was a digicam that was already aboard the shuttle and three rolls of movie.
“So this experiment cost NASA $36, and it’s the cheapest experiment that has ever gone into space,” Lind stated with fun. “We claimed that we could do more science per dollar per pound than anybody else in the space program.”
“We found out that there is a different component to the mechanism that creates the aurora, involving microwaves, that was not understood before. So the theorists had to add one more element in the equation for the creation of the aurora light,” he stated.
Lind and his crewmates landed virtually precisely every week after they left Earth. He logged 7 days, 8 minutes and 46 seconds on what was his one and solely mission.
Don Leslie Lind was born on May 18, 1930, in Midvale, Utah. He earned his Bachelor of Science diploma in physics from the University of Utah in 1953 after which enrolled within the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island.
He served 4 years on lively obligation with the U.S. Navy at San Diego and aboard the USS Hancock plane provider, logging greater than 4,500 hours of flight time.
After volunteering as a naval aviator to take high-altitude photograph emulsions of cosmic rays for the University of California, Berkeley, he enrolled on the college and earned his doctorate in excessive vitality nuclear physics in 1964. For the subsequent two years till his choice as an astronaut, Lind labored at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland as a space physicist, finding out low-energy particles throughout the Earth’s magnetosphere and interplanetary space.
After dropping his probability to probably fly to the moon, Lind educated for 2 missions to the Skylab orbital workshop, each of which have been additionally canceled. He then helped plan the payloads for the early shuttle check flights and helped develop the management system for the distant manipulator system, or Canadarm robotic arm.
Six months after getting back from space, Lind retired from NASA. (He earlier resigned from the Navy with the rank of commander in 1969.)
“I thought, ‘I am to the point in my life where if I’m ever going to shift into academia, I better do it now, or I will end up as a NASA manager for the rest of my life,'” stated Lind.
He joined the school at Utah State University as a professor of physics and astronomy till his retirement in 1995. He and his spouse Kathleen devoted their time volunteering for for his or her church.
In 1985, Lind collaborated with Kathleen to publish a guide, “Don Lind, Mormon Astronaut” (Deseret Book Co.).
For his service to the U.S. space program, Lind was awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1974, and the NASA Space Flight Medal following his flight on Challenger.
Lind is survived by his sister Charlene Lind, by all seven of his youngsters Carol Ann, David, Dawna, Douglas, Kimberly, Lisa and Daniel, 22 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren. He is preceded in loss of life by his spouse, who died on June 12, one grandson, two sisters and each of his mother and father.
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