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William Pogue, record-setting astronaut, dies at 84

William Pogue in 1973 during flight training in Houston.
William Pogue in 1973 during flight training in Houston.NASA

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Retired Air Force Colonel William Pogue, who died March 3 at 84, was an astronaut and Skylab pilot who flew around the Earth for 84 days in 1973 and 1974. At the time, it was the longest spaceflight ever.

When he splashed down on Feb. 8, 1974, he had traveled more than 34.5 million miles, made 1,214 revolutions of the Earth, walked in space for a total of 13 hours on Thanksgiving and Christmas days, and saw the sun rise and set over the Earth more than 1,300 times.

It was an astonishing feat of technology. It took 19 miles of magnetic tape to store the scientific data collected on the voyage.

Colonel Pogue considered it the adventure of a lifetime. But it was barely half over when he and his two crew mates grew restless and discontent.

They had a view of the cosmos from their spacecraft that few other humans had ever seen, but they were spending all their waking hours in the nitty-gritty of gathering information and making repairs, such as fixing a leak in a coolant line or readjusting a malfunctioning radar antenna

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