Created By The Mercury 7 Astronauts
William R. Pogue orbited the Earth for 84 days during the final manned flight of the Skylab space station in 1973 and 1974.
He was born January 23, 1930, in Okemah, Oklahoma. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1951 and a Master of Science in mathematics from Oklahoma State University in 1960.
Pogue enlisted in the Air Force in 1951 and received his commission a year later. In 1954 he completed a two-year combat tour in fighter bombers while serving with the Fifth Air Force during the Korean War. From 1955 to 1957 he was a member of the USAF precision flying team, the Thunderbirds. He later was an assistant professor in the mathematics department at the Air Force Academy, and in 1965 completed a two-year tour as a test pilot with the British Ministry of Aviation under a USAF/RAF exchange program, after graduating from the Empire Test Pilots’ School. He was an instructor at the Air Force Research Pilot School when NASA selected him as one of 19 new astronauts in April 1966.
Pogue’s first and only space assignment was as Command Module Pilot for Skylab 4, the third and final manned flight to the Skylab space station. He and Commander Gerald Carr and Science Pilot Edward Gibson were launched in their Apollo capsule on November 16, 1973. They docked with the large orbiting laboratory and settled in for a long stay. Carr and Pogue busied themselves with Earth resources cameras and sensors and metals processing experiments. Gibson, a solar physicist, concentrated on pointing six camera telescopes at the sun, stars and comet Kohoutek, whose sweep around the sun at that time was a scientific bonus. Daily medical experiments took the most time, as the spacemen gathered data on how their bodies adapted to their weightless environment. The astronauts took four two- man space walks, with the main goal of each to change film in the telescope cameras. On two of the excursions, they photographed the comet. Pogue made two of the walks, totaling 13 hours 31 minutes outside the lab.
After what was then a record 84 days in space, Carr, Pogue and Gibson bid farewell to Skylab and returned to Earth on February 8, 1974. They had circled the globe 1,214 times, traveled 34.5 million miles and brought back 1,718 pounds of film, data and biomedical specimens for scientific study.
Pogue retired from NASA and from the Air Force, as a colonel, in 1975. He passed away at age 84 on March 3, 2014.
William Pogue was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on October 4, 1997.