[Tom Stafford] [NASA Logo]
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058

Biographical Data

NAME: Thomas P. Stafford (Lieutenant General, USAF, Retired)
NASA Astronaut

Born September 17, 1930, in Weatherford, Oklahoma. His mother, Mrs. Mary Ellen Stafford, is a resident of Weatherford.

Black hair, blue eyes; height: 6 feet; weight: 175 pounds.

Graduated from Weatherford High School, Weatherford, Oklahoma; received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1952. In addition, General Stafford is the recipient of several honorary degrees. These include a doctorate of science from Oklahoma City University; a doctorate of laws, Western State University, Los Angeles, California; doctorate of communications, Emerson College, Boston, Massachuaetts; a doctorate of aeronautical engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida; and a doctorate of humanities, Oklahoma Christian College, Edmond, Oklahoma.

Married to the former Faye L. Shoemaker of Weatherford, Oklahoma. They have two daughters, Dionne Kay and Garin Elaine.


Hobbies include hunting, soaring, weight lifting, and swimming.

Fellow of the American Astronautical Society, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and a member of the Explorers Club.

Awarded two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, the JSC Certificate of Commendation (1970), the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings, and the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross. Other awards presented to General Stafford include the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Chanute Flight Award, the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Space Award, National Geographic Society's General Thomas D. White USAF Space Trophy, and the Federation Aeronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal. In 1966, he was corecipient of the AIAA Award. He was honored with the Harmon International Aviation Trophy in 1966

His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal (Air Force design), Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (twice).

He has logged 507 hours and 43 minutes in space flight and wears the Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings. He has flown over 110 different types of aircraft and has over 7,100 flying hours.

General Stafford assumed command of the Air Force Flight Test Center November 4, 1975. He was promoted to the grade of Major General August 9, 1975, with date of rank of June 1, 1973.

Promoted to grade of Lieutenant General on March 15, 1978 and on May 1, 1978, assumed duties as Deputy Chief of Staff, Research Development and Acquisition, Headquarters USAF, Washington, D.C.; retired from the Air Force November 1, 1979.

Stafford graduated with honors in 1952 from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. General Stafford received his pilot wings at Connally AFB, Waco, Texas, in September 1953. He completed advanced interceptor training and was assigned to the 54th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Ellsworth AFB, Rapid City, South Dakota. In December 1955 he was assigned to the 496th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Hahn Air Base, Germany, where he performed the duties of pilot, flight leader, and flight test maintenance officer, flying F-86Ds.

Upon returning to the United States in August 1958 he attended the Air Force Experimental Flight Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, graduated in April 1959, and received the A. B. Honts award as the outstanding graduate. He remained with the school as an instructor and later was chief of the Performance Branch.

In this capacity, he was instructor in flight test training and specialized academic subjects, establishing basic textbooks and directing the writing of flight test manuals for use by the staff and students. He is coauthor of the Pilot's Handbook for Performance Flight Testing and the Aerodynamics Handbook for Performance Flight Testing.

General Stafford was selected among the second group of astronauts in September 1962 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to participate in Projects Gemini and Apollo.

In December 1965, he was the pilot of Gemini VI, which was the first rendezvous in space, and helped in the development of techniques to prove the basic theory and practicality of space rendezvous.

In June 1966, he was commander of Gemini IX and performed three different types of rendezvous, including a demonstration of an early rendezvous that would be used in Apollo; the first optical rendezvous; and a lunar or abort rendezvous.

From August 1966 to October 1968, he headed the mission planning analysis and software development responsibilities for the astronaut group for Project Apollo.

General Stafford was the lead member of the group which helped formulate the sequence of missions leading to the first lunar landing mission.

He demonstrated and implemented the theory of a pilot manually flying the Saturn booster into orbit and the translunar injection maneuver.

In May 1969, General Stafford was commander of Apollo 10, the first flight of the lunar module to the moon, He performed the first rendezvous around the Moon and the entire lunar landing mission except the actual landing.

He also made reconnaissance and tracking on future Apollo landing sites. Stafford was cited in the Guiness Book of World Records for highest speed ever attained by man; these occurred during Apollo 10 reentry when the spacecraft attained 28,547 statute miles per hour. This set the world's all-time speed record.

He was assigned as head of the astronaut group in June 1969 and, as such, was responsible for the selection of flight crews for Projects Apollo and Skylab.

He reviewed and monitored flight crew training status reports, and was responsible for coordination, scheduling, and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts.

In June 1971, General Stafford was assigned as Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations at the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center. In this role he was responsible for assisting the director in planning and implementation of programs for the astronaut group, the Aircraft Operations, Flight Crew Integration, Flight Crew Procedures, and Crew Simulation and Training Divisions.

He logged his fourth space flight as Apollo commander of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission, July 15-24, 1975, a joint space flight culminating in the historic first meeting in space between American Astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts.

The event signaled a major advance in efforts for the conduct of joint experiments and the exchange of mutual assistance in future international space explorations.

General Stafford is currently Vice-President of Gibraltar Exploration, Ltd., Oklahoma City, OK; Chairman of The Board of Omega Watch Company of America, New York City, NY; and a member of the board of Bendix Corporation, Southfield, MI; and Gulfstream American, Savannah, GA. He is also a member of the board of several financial institutions.


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