Former U.S. astronaut Frank Borman, who commanded the first manned flight to circle the moon and later served as chairman of Eastern Airlines during a period of economic turbulence, has passed away at the age of 95, according to NASA. Borman, who spent nearly 20 days in space on two missions in the 1960s, died in Billings, Montana. He was born in Gary, Indiana on March 14, 1928, and was the oldest living American astronaut. Borman’s passion for airplanes began during his school days in Arizona, where he paid for flying lessons by delivering newspapers. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 1950, he became an Air Force fighter pilot. Following his selection for NASA’s second astronaut program in 1962, Borman trained as a test pilot. He described his experience as a veteran pilot before becoming an astronaut as crucial to his success. Borman’s first space flight was on Gemini 7 in 1965, and he served as commander on a 14-day mission that included a rendezvous with another Gemini craft. In 1968, he commanded Apollo 8, the first lunar orbital mission, during which he and his crewmates made 10 trips around the moon. The mission produced the iconic “Earthrise” photo taken by William Anders. Borman retired from NASA and the Air Force in 1970 and joined Eastern Airlines as an advisor. By 1975, he became the airline’s president and later its chairman. Despite facing financial challenges, Borman implemented measures such as a wage freeze and profit-sharing for employees. In 1984, Eastern Airlines reported a significant loss, and Borman faced criticism for continuing with a costly fleet-modernization program. The airline’s financial troubles eventually led to its acquisition by Texas Air Corp in 1986. Borman retired that same year and relocated to New Mexico to be closer to his family. In a recent interview, Borman expressed support for a mission to Mars but deemed the idea of colonizing the planet as “preposterous.” He is survived by his wife Susan and their two sons.
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