Retired astronaut Al Worden, who was once called the “loneliest human being” because of his role as Apollo 15’s command module pilot in 1971, died in his sleep in Houston on Tuesday night at the age of 88, his family announced.
- Worden orbited the moon alone for three days in Apollo 15’s command module while crewmates Dave Scott and Jim Irwin explored the lunar surface. That earned him the “loneliest” label from the BBC, plus a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Worden was also the first person to perform a spacewalk in deep space.
- After returning to Earth, Worden made several guest appearances on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The Air Force veteran retired from NASA and from active military duty in 1975, in the wake of a controversy over stamps that were carried aboard the Apollo spacecraft and then sold to collectors.
- Worden’s post-NASA career included executive roles at Maris Worden Aerospace and Goodrich Aerospace. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he was “deeply saddened” to hear of Worden’s passing and hailed him as an American hero. Eleven Apollo moon travelers are still living, including four moonwalkers.
Correction for 6:25 p.m. PT March 18: We’ve corrected the designation of Worden’s mission in one reference.