Dick Gordon started his career as a naval aviator in 1953 and then as a naval test pilot in 1957. Gordon was selected in the third group of NASA astronauts 1963. He flew on Gemini 11 and as command module pilot on Apollo 12. He was slated to command Apollo 18. However, that mission was canceled due to budget cuts. Gordon died on November 6, 2017, at the age of 88. Thus the ranks of the Apollo-era astronauts continue to dwindle as time and age call them to that final journey.

The flight of Gemini 11

After serving as backup pilot for Gemini 8, Gordon served as pilot of Gemini 11, alongside his old navy shipmate Pete Conrad.

The significant accomplishments of the mission included a rendezvous and docking of an Agena target vehicle using an onboard computer and radar system, an ascent to an orbit of 650 miles, the highest then achieved by a manned orbital spacecraft, and two spacewalks undertaken by Gordon. The first spacewalk consisted of attaching a tether between the Agena and the Gemini while the two spacecraft were separated in a passive stabilization experiment. Despite the fact that some difficulty was experienced keeping the tether taunt and the fact that Gordon experienced extreme fatigue during the spacewalk, the experiment did result in a miniscule amount of artificial gravity.

The mission of Apollo 12

After serving as backup for Apollo 9, Gordon’s second mission was as command module pilot of Apollo 12, the second mission to the moon.

While Pete Conrad and Alan Bean traveled to the Ocean of Storms, Gordon remained on board the command module and conducted photography of potential landing sites for future Apollo missions,

Apollo 18: the lost mission

Gordon served as backup commander for Apollo 15. He was slated to command the mission of Apollo 18, but that mission was canceled due to budget cuts.

One of the three lost missions of Apollo, Apollo 18 would have likely landed in an impact crater such as Copernicus or Tycho, which would have provided spectacular visuals and yielded considerable science. Captain Gordon was robbed of his final moment of glory by short-sighted politics.

No one has been back to the moon since the mission of Apollo 17 in December 1972.

With the passing of Dick Gordon, the ranks of the original lunar explorers continue to diminish. Very likely, all will have gone from this life by the time the next mission to the moon takes place, possibly sometime in the early to mid-2020s. The fact is a blot on our civilization.