Al Worden, who landed at Shannon Airport this Tuesday evening, was one of 19 astronauts selected by NASA in 1966 and served as a command module pilot for the historic Apollo 15 (July 26 – August 7, 1971).
His arrival at Shannon for a number of public engagements, including a lecture at LIT tomorrow evening and a dinner at the Pavilion UL on the 17th, is all down to a self-confessed space fanatic, Paul Ryan from Ballybricken, Limerick reaching for his own stars to fulfil a bucket-list he drew up after two cardiac incidents at the age of 37.
“I have had a fascination with space since I was a young boy and dreamed then of becoming an astronaut but that never happened, of course. I did get to live in the States later on and went to the NASA locations so they were huge moments.
“The real trigger for doing this, however, was I had two cardiac incidents four years ago and our second child was born at that time also. I had my own brush with destiny, as it were, and I just thought what is my legacy? I was literally sitting in my hospital bed thinking what am I leaving behind? What have I done that is truly different?
“People ask me why, if I was going to do something like this would I not bring it to Dublin, but a lot of big events happen in Dublin and here on the western half of the country there’s not much opportunity to go to something like this. Apart from that, Ireland has strong links in the area of space and astronomy,” he said.
He added, “There’s magical stuff going on in LIT over recent years as it had an experiment on the last Space Shuttle mission and has another going to the International Space Station shortly so Al will be well at home there. Shannon Airport was a designated emergency airport for the Space Shuttle programme so I’m delighted he’s arrived in through there also.”