The United States space program before and during Apollo, including the first time humankind landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, during Apollo 11, is one of the most written about subjects in history. Much ink has been spilt over the most thrilling moments of the lunar flights, the quality and character of the astronauts, the political forces that sent humanity to the moon, the technical details of spaceflight, and virtually every word and deed of anyone close to the Apollo program and the moon landings. But perhaps the most important and enjoyable Apollo stories are contained in books. Here are some of the best.
The nonprofit Association of Space Explorers received word that Garriott died at his home in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Astronaut Owen Garriott was a good friend and an incredible astronaut,” Buzz Aldrin , an American engineer and a former astronaut and fighter pilot, wrote on Twitter. “I have a great sadness as I learn of his passing today. Godspeed Owen.”
Garriott was born on Nov. 22, 1930, in Enid and graduated from Enid High School, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1953.
Serving as an electronics officer in the U.S. Navy from 1953 to 1956, he then received a master of science degree in 1957 from Stanford University and a doctorate in 1960, according to the OHS. He taught electronics and physics at Stanford and was selected as a scientist-astronaut by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in June 1965.
Receiving jet pilot qualification, Garriott completed the U.S. Air Force Pilot Training Program in 1966 and was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree from Phillips University in 1973.
Garriott’s initial space flight on Skylab 3 was from July 28 to Sept. 25, 1973, according to OHS. On this mission, he and his two crew mates conducted major experiments in science and medicine for a total of 1,427 hours in space. In three separate space walks outside the Skylab, Garriott spent 13 hours and 43 minutes.
On Nov. 28, 1983, Garriott made his second space flight aboard the Space Shuttle STS-9, which included the first flight of the Spacelab 1 international science station. That mission carried the first international shuttle crew and payload specialists. On this flight, he also conducted the first manned amateur radio operations in space. In 1986, Garriott resigned from NASA to go into private business, according to the OHS.
In another tweet, retired astronaut Scott Kelly called Garriott a pioneer of long-duration spaceflight with Skylab.
Garriott was co-founder of Leonardo’s Children’s Museum along with former wife Helen Walker Garriott.
During his return in 2006, Owen Garriott said his first visit to the building had occurred the 1930s.
“I was a Cub Scout then, and it was a candy factory,” he said at the time.
Garriott thanked those at a Leonardo’s dinner for helping to keep Leonardo’s going and told them it would help Enid’s children.
“This is a place that will help with the growth of the young people for years to come,” he said.
In 2015, Garriott said he expected mankind to reach Mars within the next 30 years. In the meantime, he said asteroid exploration will increase.
“If you ask kids here (at Leonardo’s) see what they say,” Owen said about future interest in space exploration. “You will see there is as much enthusiasm as there ever was.”
According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, Garriott later worked as a consultant for various aerospace companies. From 1988 to 1993, he served as vice president of space programs at Teledyne Brown Engineering and was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1973 and the NASA Space Flight Medal a decade later. Garriott’s son, video-game developer Richard Garriott, was a pioneering space tourist to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz TMA-13 in 2008.
Highway 412 is named Owen K. Garriott Road in Enid.
Funeral services will be announced soon.