Don Leslie Lind, Ph.D. (born May 18, 1930), (Cmdr, USNR, Ret.), is an American scientist and a former naval officer and aviator, and NASA astronaut.
Early life and education
Lind was born May 18, 1930. He attended Midvale Elementary School and graduated from Jordan High School. He received a Bachelor of Science degree with high honors in Physics from the University of Utah in 1953. At the United States Navy Officer Candidate School Lind jokingly requested flight training and was unable to change his assignment, but found that he enjoyed flying. As a Naval Aviator, Lind volunteered to take high-altitude photo emulsions of cosmic rays for the University of California, Berkeley during flights. This helped him enroll at Berkeley, where Lind researched pion-nucleon scattering in the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory and earned a Ph.D. in high-energy nuclear physics in 1964. During a leave of absence from NASA, he conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute from 1975 to 1976.
Lind attained the rank of Commander in the United States Navy Reserve. He received his Wings of Gold in 1957 and served four years on active duty with the Navy at San Diego and later aboard the carrier USS Hancock. During that time Lind logged more than 4,500 hours of flight time, 4,000 of which were in a jet aircraft.
From 1964 to 1966, Lind worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center as a space physicist. He was involved in experiments to determine the nature and properties of low-energy particles within the Earth's magnetosphere and interplanetary space. Lind applied for NASA's third group of astronauts but did not have enough flight hours, and was too old for the fourth group. After the age restriction changed, he was among the fifth group, the "Original Nineteen," selected in April 1966.
Although the "Original Nineteen" was an all-pilot cohort (in contrast to the fourth and sixth groups, which were limited to medical doctors and Ph.D. scientists), Lind and Group 5 colleague Bruce McCandless II were "effectively treated... as scientist-astronauts" by NASA due to their academic training and mutual lack of the test pilot experience highly privileged by Deke Slayton and other NASA managers at the time.
Along with geologist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt, Lind helped to develop and demonstrate the flight plan for the Apollo 11 EVA (including the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Packages that would continue to relay data following the missions) and other tools used on the lunar surface. He also served as a capsule communicator on the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 missions. Schmitt, Owen Garriott and Lind were the only scientist-astronauts to receive advanced helicopter training, a key prerequisite for piloting the Apollo Lunar Module. It is widely believed that Lind would have followed Schmitt as the second scientist-astronaut Lunar Module Pilot on one of the canceled Apollo missions or projected long-range Apollo Applications Program lunar survey missions.
Amid the gradual cancellation of the later Apollo missions and the devolution of the AAP into Project Skylab, Lind was formally reassigned to the latter program in August 1969; according to Slayton, who noted Lind's disappointment, "with the cancellation of [Apollo] 20, I could see I just wasn't going to have a flight for him."
Lind served as backup Pilot under backup Commander Vance D. Brand for Skylab 3 and Skylab 4, the second and third manned Skylab missions; was on standby for a rescue mission planned when malfunctions developed in Skylab 3's Apollo Command/Service Module (ultimately thwarted due to Brand and Lind's resourcefulness in the simulators) and the proposed 20-day Skylab 5 mission (scrapped in favor of the more economical extension of Skylab 4 from 56 to 84 days); and was a possible crewman of Skylab B.
According to David Shayler, Lind was disappointed that he was not assigned to Skylab 4 and "could never understand why he was not on the third crew as science pilot" due to his work on the mission's Earth resources package; this could likely be attributed to seniority and specialization, as all of the Science Pilots were drawn from Group 4 and Skylab 4 Science Pilot Edward Gibson (like Lind, an atmospheric physicist) had taken on an additional research program in solar physics and worked on the Apollo Telescope Mount while Lind was still on track to be assigned to a lunar mission. Although he cross-trained with backup Science Pilot William B. Lenoir and briefly proposed swapping positions with his crewmate, he elected to remain as Pilot due to the greater likelihood of the rescue mission (which could only accommodate the Commander and Pilot) amid dwindling flight opportunities.
When the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum received the unused Skylab B he "cried ceremonially in front of it", Lind later said; "I was ... in the right place at the wrong time".
In 1972, Lind expressed interest in being assigned to the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, the final mission of the Apollo program; ultimately, Brand was assigned as Command Module Pilot alongside senior managers Slayton (who assigned himself to the mission after being medically grounded for most of the space program) and Commander Thomas P. Stafford.
For the Space Shuttle program, Lind was reassigned as a Mission Specialist along with McCandless and the remaining Apollo-era scientist-astronauts. During this period, he was a member of the Astronaut Office's Operations Missions development group, responsible for developing payloads for the early Space Shuttle Orbital Flight Test (OFT) missions and the Canadarm. He finally flew as de facto Payload Commander on STS-51-B (April 29 to May 6, 1985), logging over 168 hours in space. Due to Apollo-era managerial preferences, NASA budgetary problems and delays in the Space Shuttle program, Lind waited longer than any other continuously serving American astronaut for a spaceflight: 19 years.
Lind retired from NASA on the twentieth anniversary of his selection in 1986. For nine years thereafter, he served as a professor of physics and astronomy at Utah State University.
STS-51-B, the Spacelab-3 science mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 29, 1985. This was the first operational Spacelab mission. The seven men crew investigated crystal growth, drop dynamics leading to containerless material processing, atmospheric trace gas spectroscopy, solar and planetary atmospheric simulation, cosmic rays, laboratory animals and human medical monitoring.
In addition to his duties as payload commander, with the help of his Alaska postdoctoral group Lind developed and conducted an experiment to photograph the Earth's aurora. As the experiment used a camera already on the Shuttle, NASA only needed to purchase three rolls of film for $36; Lind described it as "the cheapest experiment that has ever gone into space." After completing 110 orbits of the Earth, the Orbiter Challenger landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on May 6, 1985.
Awards and honors
Lind is a member of the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Phi Kappa Phi. Lind was active in the Boy Scouts of America and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He was also awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1974.
Lind married Kathleen Maughan of Logan, Utah with whom he had seven children.
Lind has served as a member of the lay ecclesiastical hierarchy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served as a missionary in the Northeastern United States before graduating from college, and after STS-51-B spoke in General Conference about his experience. While in Cache Valley as a professor at USU, he also served as a bishop. He has also served in subsequent assignments, including a term as a counselor to the President of the Portland Oregon Temple while his wife served as an assistant to the matron, and living in England for a year in 1988.