Astronaut pioneer Owen Garriott turns 88



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Astronaut scientist Owen K. Garriott imagined making a spacewalk outside the Skylab space station in 1973. The spaceflight pioneer, who spent a total of 70 days in space, passed away at his home in Huntsville, Alabama, this week. Astronaut fellow Buzz Aldrin, Scott Kelly and Pat Forrester paid tribute to the American hero. ( NASA )

NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, a space flight pioneer who flew aboard the Skylab space station and the Columbia Space Shuttle, has passed away. He was 88 years old.

The US space agency has confirmed that he died on Monday, April 15, at his home in Huntsville, Alabama. No cause of death was reported to the public.

An American Hero

Garriott, born in Oklahoma, served as an electronics officer for the US Navy from 1953 to 1956. He also taught electronics, electromagnetic theory, and ionosphere physics at Stanford University.

His career at NASA, however, began in 1965 as an astronaut-scientist. He also completed a 53-week flight training course at the Williams Air Force Base and recorded more than 5,000 flight hours.

He flew into space twice. He was a science pilot for the Skylab 3 mission from July 28 to September 25, 1973. He made nearly 14 hours off the Skylab on three spacewalks, during which his physiological and biomedical metrics were observed.

Garriott and his colleagues Commander Alan Bean and Pilot Jack Lousma recorded a total of 1,427 hours and nine minutes in space, double the duration of any previous flight. They traveled about 24.5 million miles and completed 858 revolutions around the Earth aboard the first orbital workshop in the United States.

The crew completed 333 medical experiments to help scientists understand the effects of weightlessness on the human body.

His second and last flight was on the space shuttle. He and five other people boarded the Columbia Space Shuttle on Nov. 28, 1983, for a 10-day mission to put the Space Agency's STS-9 Spacelab-1 into orbit. It was the largest team at that time to fly aboard a single spacecraft.

During the mission, Garriott operated the first amateur radio station in space. He used the W5LFL station call to connect with 250 ham operators, including his mother.

His son, Richard Garriott, developer and video game developer, became the sixth space tourist and the first American father-son space traveler. After completing training in Russia, he flew aboard the Soyuz TMA-13 ​​in 2008 and arrived at the International Space Station two days later.

The world pays tribute

NASA chief astronaut Pat Forrester issued a statement honoring Garriott. He said the late astronaut "paved the way for international cooperation in manned spaceflight."

In a tweet, Richard described his father as a "playful practical" under the exterior of Spock.

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