Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr.
b.18 Nov 1923 East Derry, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States
d.21 Jul 1998 Pebble Beach, Monterey, California, United States
Facts and Events
Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr. (November 18, 1923 – July 21, 1998) was an American naval aviator, test pilot, flag officer, NASA astronaut, and businessman, who in 1961 became the second person, and the first American, to travel into space. This Mercury flight was designed to enter space, but not to achieve orbit. Ten years later, at age 47 the oldest astronaut in the program, Shepard commanded the Apollo 14 mission, piloting the lander to the most accurate landing of the Apollo missions. He became the fifth person to walk on the Moon, and the only astronaut of the Mercury Seven to walk on the Moon. During the mission he hit two golf balls on the lunar surface.
These were his only two space flights, as his flight status was interrupted for five years (1964–69) during the Mercury and Gemini programs by Ménière's disease, an inner-ear disease that was surgically corrected before his Moon flight. Shepard served as Chief of the Astronaut Office from November 1963 – July 1969 (approximately the period of his grounding), and from June 1971 – August 1, 1974 (from his last flight, to his retirement). He was promoted from Captain to Rear Admiral on August 25, 1971. He retired from the U.S. Navy and NASA in 1974.
After leaving NASA he became a successful businessman. He died of leukemia in 1998, five weeks before the death of his wife of 53 years. They were survived by their three daughters.