He was accepted for astronaut training in 1966, but he only got into space in 1985. “It was a record. No one has waited longer for their flight into space than I have. I hope this doesn’t happen again,” Lind told NASA in 2005.
Lind got into the nineteen-member party of astronauts who were expected to go to the moon. They put him in the fifth group, he didn’t fit into the fourth because of the age limit by 74 days.
However, before it was his turn, the project was terminated. “And I didn’t get to the moon anymore. It was incredibly disappointing for me,” added Lind.
He was subsequently selected for the Skylab space station program in the early 1970s. He made it to the backup crew for manned flights number 3 and 4. He and his partner Vance DeVoeBrand rehearsed a potential rescue mission. However, he did not look into space again.
Space Shuttle Challenger crew in 1985. Astronaut Don Lind is third from right.
He only managed to do this in 1985 aboard the space shuttle Challenger. It started on April 29. Given that two of Lind’s other six colleagues were also astronauts from the former Apollo era, the average age of the crew was 48.6 years, making the mission one of the oldest in American space history.
Lind was on board in the position of flight specialist. The mission lasted seven days, spending a total of 168 hours in orbit. The crew conducted several scientific experiments, including the first experiments on animals. “We had monkeys, squirrels and a few rats. I enjoyed it,” Lind commented on his work.
In addition, Lind also designed and conducted his own experiment when he took the first clear photographs of the aurora borealis. All he needed then was a camera that was already available on board the shuttle and three rolls of film. “That experiment cost NASA $36, it was one of the cheapest,” laughed Lind.
Lind left NASA half a year after his space flight and became a professor of physics and astronomy at Utah State University in Logan. He previously defended his doctorate in the field of high-energy nuclear physics and also worked as a space physicist. He retired in 1995.
He was also an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are called Mormons. He was married and had seven children.