Al Worden


Al Worden was one of 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. After serving as a member of the support crew for Apollo 9 and a back-up crew member for Apollo 12, Worden served as Command Module Pilot for Apollo 15, the fourth manned lunar mission, which took place July 26-August 7, 1971. This mission achieved many firsts: placement of a satellite in lunar orbit, delivery of the lunar rover to the surface of the Moon and use of a scientific instrument module in lunar orbit. Apollo 15 is acknowledged as the most scientifically oriented flight of the Apollo program. Worden logged more than 295 hours of flight time and traveled nearly 1.4 million miles.

Following his career with NASA, Worden joined the staff at Northwood University in Midland, Mich., where he taught for three years. He later ran for U.S. Congress in Florida’s 12th District. In the mid-1980s, he moved into the private sector, where he founded Maris Worden Aerospace in 1985 and served as its president for nearly 20 years. He also held executive positions with Jet Electronics and Technology (president from 1990-1993) and BF Goodrich Aerospace (vice-president from 1993-1997). From 2004-2010, Worden served as chairman of the board of McDonald Properties, Inc. in Vero Beach, Fla., as well as the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed by the Mercury 7 astronauts to provide scholarships to exceptional students in STEM-based fields.

A Michigan native, Worden graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1955 in the top 10% of his class. He later entered the University of Michigan where he earned two masters degrees in aeronautical/astronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering. He also holds honorary doctorates in astronautical engineering from the University of Michigan and law from Northwood University. Worden also earned many prestigious honors throughout his career, including the 1972 Collier Trophy, the VandenBerg Trophy, the UN Peace Medal and many more.

Now fully retired, Worden authored a book of poetry, a children’s book and his best-selling autobiography, “Falling To Earth.” He’s currently working on two books for publication in 2020 tied to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 15.

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Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.