[Richard Gordon] [NASA Logo]
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058

Biographical Data

NAME: Richard F. Gordon, Jr., (Captain, USN, Ret.)
NASA Astronaut

Born October 5, 1929, in Seattle, Washington.


Graduated from North Kitsap High School, Poulsbo, Washington; received a bachelor of science degree in Chemistry, University of Washington, 1951; a SCD (honorary), Niagara University, 1972; Operations Analysis, USN Post Graduate School, Monterey, California, 1963; and graduated USN Test Pilots School, 1957.

Married to the former Linda A. Saundera of Miami, Florida.

Carleen, July 8, 1954; Richard, October 6, 1955; Lawrence, December 18, 1957; Thomas, March 25, 1959; James, April 26, 1960 (deceased); and Diane, April 23, 1961.

Gordon has served as chairman and cochairman of the Louisiana Heart Fund, chairman of the March of Dimes (Mother's March), honorary chairman for Muscular Dystrophy, and board of directors for the Boy Scouts of America and Boys' Club of Greater New Orleans.

Fellow, American Astronautical Society; Associate Fellow, Society of Experimental Test Pilots; and Navy League.

Awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; NASA Exceptional Service Medal; two Navy Distinguished Flying Crosses; Navy Astronaut Wings; Navy Distinguished Service Medal; Institute of Navigation Award for 1969; Godfrey L. Cabot Award, 1970; the Rear Admiral William S. Parsons Award for Scientific and Technical Progress,1970; Phi Sigma Kappa Merit Award,1966; NASA MSC Superior Achievement Award; NASA Group Achievment Award; FAI Record, 1961 (Transcontinental Speed Record); and FAI World Record (Altitutde Record, Gemini XI)

Gordon, a retired Navy Captain, received his wings as a naval aviator in 1953. He then attended All-Weather Flight School and jet transitional training and was subsequently assigned to an all-weather fighter squadron at the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida.

In 1957, he attended the Navy's Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, and served as a flight test pilot until 1960. During this tour of duty, he did flight test work on the F8U Crusader, F11F Tigercat, FJ Fury, and A4D Skyhawk, and was the first project test pilot for the F4H Phantom II.

He served with Fighter Squadron 121 at the Miramar, California, Naval Air Station as a flight instructor in the F4H and participated in the introduction of that aircraft to the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He was also flight safety officer, assistant operations officer, and ground training officer for Fighter Squadron 96 at Miramar.

Winner of the Bendix Trophy Race from Los Angeles to New York in May 1961, he established a new speed record of 869.74 miles per hour and a transcontinental speed record of 2 hours and 47 minutes.

He was also a student at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California.

He has logged more than 4,500 hours flying time, including 3,500 hours in set aircraft.

Gordon was one of the third group of astronauts named by NASA in October 1963. He served as backup pilot for the Gemini VIII flight. On September 12, 1966, he served as pilot for the 3-day Gemini XI mission, which acheived rendezvous with an Agena in less than one orbit. He executed docking maneuvers with the previously launched Agena and performed two periods of extravehicular activity, which included attaching a tether to the Agena and retrieving a nuclear emulsion experiment package. Other highlights accomplished by Gordon and command pilot Charles Conrad on this flight included the successful completion of the first tethered station-keeping exercise, establishment of a new altitude record of 850 miles, and completion of the first fully automatic controlled reentry. The flight was concluded on September 15, 1966, with the spacecraft landing in the Atlantic, 2 and 1/2 miles from the prime recovery ship USS GUAM.

Gordon was subsequently assigned as backup command module pilot for Apollo 9. He occupied the command module pilot seat on Apollo 12, November 14-24, 1969. Other crewmen on man's second lunar landing mission were Charles Conrad, spacecraft commander, and Alan L. Bean, lunar module pilot. Throughout the 31 hour lunar surface stay by Conrad and Bean, Gordon remained in lunar orbit aboard the command module, "Yankee Clipper," obtaining desired mapping photographs of tentative landing sites for future missions. He also performed the final redocking maneuvers following the successful lunar orbit rendezvous which was initiated by Conrad and Bean from within "Intrepid" after their ascent from the Moon's surface.

All of the mission's objectives were accomplished, and Apollo 12 achievements include: the precision lunar landing with "Intrepid's" touchdown in the Moon's Ocean of Storms; and the first lunar traverse by Conrad and Bean as they deployed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiment Package (ALSEP), installed a nuclear power generator station to provide the power source for these long-term scientific experiments, gathered samples of the lunar surface for return to Earth, and completed a close-up inspection of the Surveyor III spacecraft.

The Apollo 12 mission lasted 244 hours and 36 minutes and was concluded with a Pacific splashdown and subsequent recovery operations by the USS HORNET.

Gordon completed two space flights, logging a total of 315 hours and 53 minutes in space, of which 2 hours and 44 minutes were spent in EVA.

He served as backup spacecraft commander for Apollo 15. At the completion of the Apollo 15 flight in 1971, Gordon was given new responsibilities as Chief, Advanced Programs of the Astronaut Office, and worked on the design and testing of the Shuttle and Development Equipment.

In January, 1972, Gordon retired from NASA and the U.S. Navy after 22 years of military service and accepted a position with John W. Mecom, Jr., as Executive Vice President of the New Orleans Saints Professional Football Club in the National Football League. As the Executive Vice President, he was responsible to the President of the New Orleans Saints for the administrative, contractual, and other fiscal operations of the entire Saints' organization.

In April 1977, Gordon returned to Houston at the request of Mecom to act as the General Manager of Energy Developers, Limited (EDL), a Texas Partnership involved in a joint venture with Rocket Research Corporation for the development of a liquid chemical explosive for use in the oil and gas industry. In addition, Gordon was engaged in the utilization of space technology for application to our Earth resources as it applied to the discovery and development of oil and gas resources.

In May 1978, Gordon became President of Resolution Engineering and Development Company (REDCO). REDCO provides design and operational requirements for wild oil well control and fire fighting equipment on board a large semisubmersible utility vessel designed by REDCO and the Southeast Drilling Co. (SEDCO) for operation in the North Sea. Two vessels are presently operating in the North Sea for Phillips Petroleum and Occidental of Britain. Gordon also participated in North Sea production platform safety inspections under the auspices of Red Adair Company for Shell/Esso in the Brent and Cormorant field and for Mobil in the Statford Fields. He was also responsible for the preparation and presentation of the technical report submitted to the respective management personnel for the above companies in London, England; Aberdeen, Scotland; and Stavanger, Norway.

In January 1980, after the merger of REDCO with Amarco Resources, Gordon assumed the additional duties of Vice President for Marketing, Westdale, an oil well servicing subsidiary of AMARCO operating in North Central Texas and Oklahoma. Responsibilities included eatablishment and maintenance of customer files, direct contact with the customer at the management level, analysis of new areas of operation and acquisition possibilities for expansion purposes, and the introduction of allied equipment for the well servicing business of the company.

In August 1980, additional responsibilities of Vice President for Operations, Texas Division were assumed. This included the operation of 17 well servicing rigs and 8 pump/transport trucks in Jacksboro and Rule, Texas, as well as the supervision of 92 operational personnel and support staff. From September 1981 to February 1983, Gordon accepted the position of Director: Scott Science and Technology, Inc., Los Angeles Division. He was responsible for all systems management activities of the company in the Los Angeles area. Scott Science and Technology, Inc., is an international corporation dedicated to the commercial application of advanced technology. Based on the expertise residing within the firms, as well as the accessibility of advanced technology in the aerospace community, the company conducts research and development, project management, and product improvement activities to enhance the products, processes, and services of business and industry.

In March 1982, Mr. Gordon became President of Astro Sciences Corporation, which was incorporated as Astro Systems and Engineering, Inc., Los Angeles, California. He is responsible as the CEO of Astro Sciences Corporation (a subsidary of Transworld Services, Inc., of which he is a Corporate Vice President) for all activities of the company. The company provides a versatile range of services including engineering, project management, project field support teams, and product support activities. Software and hardware system design for control room applications has also become a recent product. In the Summer of 1984, Gordon was a Technical Advisor for and played the part of "Capcom" in the CBS miniseries SPACE, by James A. Michener.


Click here to return to the SPACE EDUCATORS' HANDBOOK HOME PAGE.