Death of Frank Borman: The Astronaut who could become the first man on the Moon

Former NASA astronaut Frank Borman died in the United States at the age of 95. He commanded the first expedition that flew to the Moon 55 years ago. 

Frank Borman. Source: NASA

Frank Borman was born on March 14, 1928, in Gary, Indiana. In 1950, he graduated from the Military Academy at West Point, after which he joined the US Air Force. Subsequently, he flew more than 3,000 hours on jet planes.

In 1962, Frank Borman was selected for the second group of NASA astronauts. He made his first flight into space as the commander of the Gemini 7 mission in 1965. A new record for the duration of a stay in space was set on this flight, which lasted until 1970. In addition to the record, the spacecraft served as an improvised target for rendezvous with the Gemini 6 spacecraft (despite the numbering, it was launched later than Gemini 7).

Frank Borman. Source: NASA

Borman’s next assignment was the Apollo 9 expedition. Its goal was to test the lunar module in near-Earth orbit. However, due to the unavailability of the spacecraft, NASA decided to castling and swap the crews of Apollo 8 and Apollo 9. Borman’s team was tasked with being the first in history to fly around the Moon and return to Earth.

Apollo 8 was launched on December 21, 1968, and three days later it entered a selenocentric orbit. In total, the spacecraft completed ten orbits around the Moon. During one of them, the astronauts took the famous picture of the Earth rising above the lunar surface.

The famous picture of the Earth’s rise taken by the crew of Apollo 8. Source: NASA

The Apollo 8 expedition successfully returned to Earth on December 27, 1968. It is known that the deputy director of NASA, Deke Slayton, who was responsible for the selection of crews in those years, offered Borman the position of commander of the Apollo 11 expedition. Thus, he would have become the first person to set foot on the surface of the Moon. But Borman refused, because long before that he had decided that Apollo 8 would be his last space flight. He retired from NASA in 1970, after which he worked in the private sector.

Recall that Ken Mattingly, who flew to the Moon as part of the Apollo 16 expedition, recently died. Now, out of twenty-four lunar astronauts, eight are left alive. Four landed on its surface, and four more saw it from orbit. The youngest of the Apollo astronauts is 88 years old.

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time