The leader of the inaugural lunar orbit space mission, Colonel Frank Borman of the United States Air Force, has passed away. He held command during the Apollo 8 mission in 1968. Recognized for his strong character, Borman played a pivotal role as a prominent member of NASA’s early spaceflight team.
Frank Frederick Borman II came into the world on March 14, 1928, in Gary, Indiana. During his childhood, sinus issues prompted his family to relocate to Tucson, Arizona, known for its more favorable climate. At the age of five, he had the rare opportunity to take his inaugural airplane ride, an experience that left a lasting impression on him.
By the time he turned 15, he acquired the skill of flying and became a member of a nearby aviation club. Concurrently, he developed a keen interest in pursuing aeronautical engineering, but financial constraints within his family hindered his ability to attend college.
Nevertheless, through the intervention of a family acquaintance, the local congressman was persuaded to recommend Borman for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. When the initial three nominees withdrew, Borman secured the coveted spot. In 1946, he commenced his journey at West Point and graduated in 1950 as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
Following a decade of service in the Air Force, Borman attained the status of a qualified test pilot, distinguishing himself as one of the top pilots within the force. Consequently, when NASA initiated the search for new astronauts in April 1962, Borman emerged as a clear and fitting candidate.
Embarking on his initial space journey, Borman participated in the Gemini 7 mission, commencing on September 6, 1965, and concluding on December 18. This mission resulted in Borman receiving a medal and securing a promotion to the rank of colonel. At the age of 37, he became the youngest full colonel in the Air Force.
The pinnacle of Borman’s space career was the Apollo 8 mission, lifting off on December 21, 1968, and returning to Earth six days later. This historic mission marked the first spacecraft to orbit the moon, and the iconic Earthrise photo was captured during this expedition.
Following Apollo 8, Borman concluded his space journeys. In 1970, he resigned from both NASA and the USAF, transitioning to an executive role with Eastern Air Lines for the subsequent 16 years.
On November 7, Borman passed away at his residence in Billings, Montana, at the age of 95.