Space Sunday: Al Worden remembered

When news of the arrangement broke, all three astronauts were reprimanded for poor judgement and removed from active flight status.. In an attempt to recover the latter, Scott, Irwin and Worden surrendered their own sets of the covers to NASA and returned the initial $7,000 they’d each received from Sieger whilst also refusing any payments from the sales. However, the damage was done, and none of the three men would ever fly in space for NASA again.

The situation with the postal covers remained a point of contention down the years, with Worden steadfast in the believe he’d done nothing wrong while frequently blaming mission commander David Scott for the entire situation. However, following an unsuccessful attempt to gain the Republican nomination for the United States House of Representatives in Florida’s 12th congressional district in 1982, Worden was left in some debt. As a result, in 1983 he filed a motion against NASA for the return of the covers to the three astronauts, and the agency relented, allowing him to sell a portion of his covers to clear his debts.

One of the postal covers that caused so much controversy following the Apollo 15 mission. Via Space Flown Artefacts

Despite the fall-out from the postal covers, Worden remained with NASA, holding senior research positions  at NASA’s Ames Research Centre, California, until 1975 when his retirement from the US Air Force came due. Retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, he also resigned from NASA to take up a number of senior roles a various aerospace companies. Further, and despite the postal covers situation, he remained highly regarded within NASA and beyond; he received NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal in 1971 and Ambassador of Exploration Award in 2016. He was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1983, the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1997 and the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum (2016).

In his personal life, Worden was married twice, the first time to Pamela Vander Beek, whom he met on a blind date while a cadet, in June 1955, but they divorced in 1969. In 1982 he married Jill Lee Hotchkiss, with whom her remained until her death in 2014. He passed away at an assisted living centre in Texas on March 18th, 2020 as a result of a stroke. He is survived by his three daughters, Tamara Christians, Merrill Bohanning, and Alison Penczak.