Colonel Alfred Merrill Worden USAF (February 7, 1932 – March 18, 2020) was an American test pilot, engineer and NASA astronaut who was the command module pilot for the Apollo 15 lunar mission in 1971. One of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, he orbited it 74 times in the command module (CM) Endeavour.
Worden was born in Michigan in 1932; he spent his early years living on farms and attended the University of Michigan for one year, before securing an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Graduating in 1955, he elected to be commissioned in the Air Force, though he had no piloting experience. He proved adept at flying fighter planes, and honed his skills, becoming a test pilot before his selection as a Group 5 astronaut in 1966. He served on the support crew for Apollo 9 and the backup crew for Apollo 12 before his selection for the Apollo 15 crew in 1970, with David Scott as commander and James Irwin as lunar module pilot.
After Apollo 15 reached lunar orbit, and his crewmates departed to land on the Moon, Worden spent three days alone in the CM, becoming in the process the individual who traveled the farthest from any other human being, a distinction he still holds. He took many photographs of the Moon and operated a suite of scientific instruments that probed the Moon. During Apollo 15's return flight to Earth, Worden performed an extravehicular activity (EVA), or spacewalk, to retrieve film cassettes from cameras on the exterior of the spacecraft. It was the first "deep space" EVA in history, and as of 2020 remains the one that has taken place farthest from Earth.
After their return, the crew became involved in a controversy over postal covers they had taken to the Moon; they were reprimanded by NASA and did not fly in space again. Worden remained at NASA until 1975 at the Ames Research Center, then entered the private sector. He engaged in a variety of business activities, and had a longtime involvement with the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, serving as chair of its board of directors from 2005 until 2011. He made many public appearances, promoting a renewed space program and education in the sciences, before his death in 2020.