Mormons in Space: 4 Fascinating Firsts

From landing men on the moon to helping humans reach interstellar space, these Latter-day Saint pioneers dedicated their lives to exploring the outer most limits of space and expanding our understanding of the celestial.

First LDS Astronaut for NASA

Mormons in Space

Picture retrieved from theppacerace.com

For first Latter-day Saint astronaut Don Lind, getting to space took almost two decades of grueling training and patience.

As a small boy, Lind and his sisters loved to climb trees in his neighborhood in Midvale, Utah, shaking the branches and pretending they were in a spacecraft hurtling through the universe.  At that time, space travel was a feat only dreamed up in comic books and science fiction.  It wasn’t until over 20 years later that the first men entered space in 1961. After hearing the news, Lind—then a Navy pilot and doctor of physics—knew he had found his calling.  

Lind was accepted into NASA’s space program in 1966 where he underwent rigorous physical and mental training courses.  “Our training involved night-shifts at the local hospital emergency room to learn what to do if we had to perform emergency surgery in space,” Lind said.  “We learned survival skills in the Panamanian jungle, which we’d need if we landed far off course. We also were taught graduate-level geology courses.”  

Despite having completed his training, Lind had to wait another 19 years before entering space—the longest waiting time for any American in spaceflight history.  But Lind kept himself more than busy.  He continued working on NASA missions, serving as the director of lunar operations on Apollo 11 when man first walked on the moon.

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Lind’s own spaceflight finally came in 1985 when he boarded the Challenger for an eight-day journey to study the Aurora Australis. Many miracles surrounded Lind’s exploration into space, the largest being simply his safe return home. Just nine months after his mission, the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff due to faulty O-rings, killing the seven crew members on board. Lind believes that a priesthood blessing he received before his flight protected him and his crew from a similar fate as they hurtled through the earth’s incinerating atmosphere aboard that very space shuttle. Full of faith and gratitude for the Lord’s protection, Lind said, “We weren’t more righteous or more deserving of the Lord’s help—those on the Challenger were good people—but it had been promised us.” 

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