Apollo 9 commander James McDivitt has died at the age of 93


NASA said in a statement that former astronaut James A. McDivitt, who led the Apollo 9 mission, died Thursday in Tucson, Arizona, with family and friends around him. He was 93.

During his career, McDivitt spent 14 days in space. In September 1962, after graduating from the Air Force Experimental Test Pilot School and working as an experimental test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California, he was selected to join the second class of NASA astronauts.

NASA says he first went into space in June 1965 as commander of the Gemini IV mission. He went with fellow Air Force pilot Ed White, who was the first American to spacewalk on the historic 4-day trip.

He then went into space again as commander of the Apollo 9 mission, which took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on March 3, 1969 with David Scott and Russell Schweikart in the Command and Lunar Module.

NASA says that after launch, Apollo 9 entered Earth orbit, where the crew tested the engineering of the first manned lunar module, called Spider, and practiced the movements that would be made on real missions to the moon.

Ten days later, on March 13, 1969the Apollo 9 spacecraft returned to Earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean.

He was in the US Air Force before becoming an astronaut. NASA says he flew 145 combat missions in F-80 and F-86 aircraft during the Korean War. During his piloting career, he has flown more than 5,000 hours.

After his travels to space, McDivitt was assigned to lead the lunar landing operations. From August 1969 until June 1972, when he retired from NASA, he was in charge of the Apollo spacecraft program.

During his long and successful career, McDivitt earned two NASA Distinguished Service Medals and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. He also earned two Air Force Distinguished Service Medals, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, five Air Medals, and USAF Astronaut Wings.

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