Former NASA astronaut Frank Borman passed away on Thursday at 95.
On Tuesday, NASA announced on its website that Borman, who flew in space for almost 20 days during two missions in the 1960s, had died in Billings, Montana.
Borman put himself through flight school on the money he made as a newspaper boy in Arizona. After graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1950, he joined the Air Force as a fighter pilot. Like many others of his generation, he was a test pilot before entering NASA’s second astronaut program in 1962.
With courage and a steely-eyed sense of duty and determination, test pilots could transition into trainee astronauts easily.
Borman’s first mission as commander was 1965’s Gemini 7, which lasted 14 days and featured a docking with another Gemini spacecraft.
Three years later, on Christmas of 1968, as commander of Apollo 8 (the first lunar orbital mission), Borman made ten orbits of the moon.
The famous “Earthrise” picture, in which Borman’s crewmate William Anders captured the blue and white Earth as a half orb rising over the desolate lunar plain, was taken during this mission.
Borman left NASA and the Air Force in 1970 to work as an advisor for Eastern Airlines. He rapidly advanced through the airline ranks, becoming president in 1975 and chairman the year after.
He proposed profit sharing to employees to ease the shock of his extraordinary move to freeze wages in a traditionally high-paying industry.
In 1984, it was predicted that Eastern would incur a $580 million deficit over five years, and still, Borman persisted with a costly fleet-modernization program.
Eastern only made $6.3 million in 1985, which is hardly remarkable, and Borman was forced to go outside the firm for a solution to the company’s financial problems the following year. In exchange for cash, Eastern agreed to be acquired by Texas Air Corp., the nation’s largest airline holding company.
In his 1986 retirement announcement, Borman indicated that he would move to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to help manage his son’s automobile dealership, publish a book, and be closer to his family.
He supported launching a mission to Mars but called it “preposterous” to consider settling on Mars permanently.
Borman and his wife Susan raised two sons.