Astronaut Donald Peterson, one of the first astronauts to make a spacewalk from the space shuttle, died on Sunday at the age of 84.
Peterson's death was first reported by the Association of Space Explorers, who reported his death on his Facebook page
"So sad that we've lost another member of the astronaut family," reads the ad. "Beautiful sky and tailwind, Don."
Peterson joined NASA in September 1969, two years after the US Air Force selected him as part of the planned Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL). The mission was eventually canceled, causing Peterson and his other apprentices to join the government agency.
"You might think it a lot – I mean, a bunch of demo and testing and everything." So far, I know, there were none, "Peterson said on Space.com. "There were fourteen people in the MOL program, and they took the seven youngest people with them."
Born in Winona, MS, Peterson enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1955. From there he joined the Air Force and became second lieutenant, but it took him 14 years to finally fly into space and be appointed to the first crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
Challenger had his first flight between 4 and 4 April 9, 1983, led by STS-6 commander Paul Weitz. The shuttle made 10 missions, the last one being the unlucky STS 51 L mission on Jan. 28, 1986, which killed all seven crew members, including teacher Christa McAuliffe, when she exploded into the flight for just 73 seconds.
Three days after the first Challenger mission, Peterson and Mission Specialist Story Musgrave made history and became the first astronauts to wear the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spaces suit and take a spacewalk
"That was fun," Peterson (19659007) During the four-hour, ten-minute extravehicular activity, both astronauts fastened their suits and worked with the mount that supported the tracking and data relay satellites, the first of its kind that could be launched. They used a wrench to manually lower it after it had been tilted forward.
"We had ankle cuffs, but it took so long to set them up and move them around that we did not want to, so I only held on to a piece of sheet metal with one hand, which is not the best way to hold on, and cranked the wrench with my other hand, and my legs floated out behind me, "Peterson said. "As I cranked up, my legs wagged like a swimmer to respond to the wrench."
Due to the movements performed, the waist ring turned on Peterson's spacesuit and the closure that held him airtight "19659007" Story stopped what he did and came over. We tried to check what was going on, and the seal collapsed and the leak stopped, so we went ahead and finished the EVA, "Peterson said. [Peterson]
Peterson eventually dropped out of NASA in November 1984 after he left Spent a total of 5 days, 23 minutes, and 42 seconds in the space, going 2.1 million miles, and STS-6 was his only space flight.
From there, Peterson consulted and worked with manned space operations before stopping work in 1993.
He leaves behind his son Don, two daughters, Jean and Shari and his brother Gil. His wife, Bonnie Ruth Love, passed away in 2017.