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In Memory of Al Worden

Apollo Astronaut, Al Worden, served the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation for more than 20 years in a variety of roles, most notably as ASF Chairman from 2006-2011.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) is saddened to lose their dear friend, board member, avid supporter and past leader, Apollo Astronaut Alfred “Al” Merrill Worden who passed away on March 18, 2020 at age 88. Worden tirelessly served our Foundation for more than 20 years in a variety of roles. Most notably, he was the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Chairman from 2006-2011 and helped to expand our scholarship giving, transforming it into the robust program it has become today. A huge proponent of STEM and a huge proponent of patriotism, our mission became his mission; Al never traveled anywhere without sharing the wonderful ASF news and he remained one of our biggest advocates through his lifetime. “Al Worden played such an important role in the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation-he worked tirelessly to further our mission when he served as chairman, and never stopped even when his role changed to board member. Al made sure the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation stayed the course while his infectious comical energy ensured everyone was always having fun, he was simply amazing!” expressed ASF Chairman Curt Brown.

Al Worden was born on February 7, 1932 in Jackson, Michigan. He earned his Bachelor of Military Science degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and followed this up with Master of Science degrees in astronautical & aeronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering from the University of Michigan. He served as pilot and armament officer of the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron as well as an instructor to some of his future astronaut counterparts at Edwards AFB.

In April 1966, he was chosen alongside 18 others to become the 5th group of astronauts selected by NASA. He served as a member of the support crew for Apollo 9, backup command module pilot for Apollo 12, and flew as command module pilot on Apollo 15. crewed by spacecraft commander Dave Scott and lunar module pilot Jim Irwin alongside Worden. This fourth manned mission to successfully land on the moon set many records: The first of the “J missions,” that included long stays on the moon with a greater focus on science than previous missions; heaviest payload in a lunar orbit; maximum radial distance traveled on the lunar surface away from the spacecraft; most lunar surface EVA’s and longest total duration for lunar surface EVA’s; longest time in lunar orbit; longest lunar crewed mission/longest Apollo mission; and the first deep space and operational EVA (from a command module and out of earth orbit). Worden, who performed this spacewalk, still holds the record for the deepest space EVA to this day and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for this accomplishment as well as “accomplishing” being the most isolated human being (when orbiting the moon on Apollo 15).

Al knew the importance of educating children starting at a young age. Another gentleman making strides in child communications and education through his television show was Fred Rogers, known to us as Mr. Rogers. Al reached out to the producers and ended up filming a pre-launch and post-launch segment, teaching kids all about spaceflight, recognizing the need to inform and inspire youth. An author of three books, Al’s children’s book, I Want to Know about a Flight to the Moon, has the forward penned by Mr. Rogers himself. Here he humanized the space program by including and teaching children all about the world and science and technology - no wonder Al was a perfect fit to later lead our ASF organization.

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation would not be the same without “Our Al.” No one worked harder to promote STEM worldwide, while making sure to leave everyone with a smile on their face, than our beloved Al Worden. We are a happier crew because of you; your absence will be felt forever; Godspeed to our dear Rocket Man-we love you to the heavens Al.


Years of ASF


Astronaut Scholars




Millions Awarded

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