by Arthur F. Beaugeard

Al Worden, one of NASA’s brave American astronauts in the command module during the 1971 Apollo 15 mission to the moon, tragically passed away on March 18, 2020, in his home state of Texas, at the ripe old age of 88. Although never having walked on the moon, he circled it in the command module while his crewmates did and he performed a spacewalk on the way back to retrieve film in cameras on the outside of the spacecraft.

Worden earned a record for the most isolated human being in history when he was on the dark side of the moon during orbit, reaching a total distance of 2,235 miles, or 3,597 kilometers, from the nearest human beings, who were his crewmates, David Scott and James B. Irwin. 

A West Point graduate and former Air Force colonel, Worden became an astronaut in 1966 and spent an illustrious career of 295 hours in space, witnessing countless Earth rises as he circled the moon during the Apollo 15 mission. He remained active in the scientific field and dabbled in the aerospace business for years after suspending his career exploring space. 

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said he was “deeply saddened to hear” of Al Worden’s death in a tweet on Thursday that was bursting with praise for an early explorer in humanity’s final journey into the great unknown.

Works Cited:

Maxouris, Christina, and Andy Rose. “Astronaut Al Worden, Who Circled the Moon and Once Earned Record for ‘Most Isolated Human Being,’ Has Died.” CNN, Cable News Network, 21 Mar. 2020,
Dunbar, Brian. “NASA Remembers Apollo 15 Astronaut Al Worden.” NASA, NASA, 6 Mar. 2020,