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Thomas Patten Stafford

Gemini and Apollo astronaut

Thomas Stafford

Biographical Data

Born September 17, 1930, in Weatherford, Oklahoma.

Married Faye L. Shoemaker. Two daughters, Dionne Kay and Karin Elaine.

Married Linda Ann Dishman. Two adopted sons, Michael Thomas and Stanislav Patten.


Weatherford (Oklahoma) High School
Bachelor of Science, United States Naval Academy, 1952

Military Career

Received his pilot wings at Connally Air Force Base, Waco, Texas, in September 1953.

Completed advanced interceptor training and assigned to the 54th Flight Interceptor Squadron, Ellsworth Air Force Base, Rapid City, South Dakota.

December 1955, assigned to the 496th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Hahn Air Base, Germany, where he performed the duties of pilot, flight leader, and flight test maintenance office, flying F-86Ds.

Attended the USAF Experimental Test Pilot School and received The A.B. Honts Award as the Outstanding Graduate. Became an 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.

Co-author of the Pilot's Handbook for Performance Flight Testing and the Aerodynamics Handbook for Performance Flight Testing.

Assumed command of the Air Force Flight Test Center November 4, 1975.

Promoted to the grade of Major General August 9, 1975, with date of rank of June 1, 1973.

Promoted to Lieutenant General on March 15, 1978.

On May 1, 1978, assumed the duties as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Research, Development and Acquisition, in Washington, D.C.

Retired from the Air Force in November 1979.

NASA Career

Part of the second group of astronauts selected in September 1962.

Gemini VI (December 1965)
Piloted the first rendezvous in space.

Gemini IX (June 1966)
Commanded the first optical rendezvous, and a lunar orbit abort rendezvous.

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

Apollo 10 (May 18-26, 1969)
Commander of the first flight of the Lunar Module to the Moon.
Descended to nine miles above the moon performing the entire lunar landing mission except the actual landing.
Performed the first rendezvous around the Moon, and designated the first lunar landing site.

Assigned as head of the Apollo and Skylab astronaut group in June 1969, responsible for coordination, scheduling, and control of all activities involving NASA astronauts.

June 1971, assigned as Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations at the NASA Manned Space flight Center, 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.

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (July 15-24, 1975)
Commander of the Apollo portion of the first meeting in space of American and Soviet astronauts.

Logged a total of 507 hours 43 minutes in space flight.

Post-Space Flight Career

Defense advisor to Governor Ronald Reagan during the 1980 presidential campaign and a member of the Reagan Presidential transition team.

Served on the National Research Council's Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board; the Committee on NASA Scientific and Technological Program Reviews and Vice President Quayle's Space Policy Advisory Council.

Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council Task Force on Shuttle-Mir Rendezvous and Docking Missions.

Co-Chairman of the Stafford-Covey Space Shuttle Return to Flight Task Group after the Shuttle Columbia accident.

Chairman of the Operations Oversight Committee of the first Hubble Telescope Spacecraft Servicing and Repair Mission that corrected the design and manufacturing defect of the instrument.

Chaired the team that completed the study called "America at the Threshold", a road map for the next 30 years of the U.S. Manned Space Flight Program (1990-1991).

Co-founded the Technical Consulting Firm of Stafford, Burke, and Hecker, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia.

Chairman of the NASA Advisory Council Task Force for ISS Safety and Operational Readiness.


fellow, American Astronautical Society
fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
member, Masonic Lodge
National Academy of Engineering
member, Society of Experimental Test Pilots

Awards and Honors

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Force Outstanding Unit AWard with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings

4 NASA Distinguished Service Medals
2 NASA Exceptional Service Medals
NASA Medal for outstanding leadership
NASA Public Service Award for the Hubble Telescope Service and Repair Mission

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Chanute Flight Award
Astronaut Hall of Fame
Congressional Space Medal of Honor
Federation Aeronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal
Harmon International Aviation Trophy, 1966 and 1976
IAAA Award, 1966
National Geographic Society's General Thomas D. White USAF Space Trophy
Rotary National Award for Space Achievement
Society of Experimental Test Pilots James H. Doolittle Award for Management, 1979
United States Air Force Lifetime Achievement Award
Veterans of Foreign Wars National Space Award
Wright Brother Memorial Trophy

Aerospace Walk of Honor, 1997
Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Kitty Hawk Sands of Time Award, 1978
National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustees Award, 1969
National Aviation Hall of Fame, 1997
Oklahoma Commerce and Industry Hall of Honor, 1994

several honorary doctorates

Astronaut Biographies
International Space Hall of Fame
Oklahoma Historical Society

Ronald Reagan

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This page was last updated on 04/10/2018.