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Don Lind, Latter-day Saint astronaut, scientist, dies at age 92

The astronaut, scientist, pilot, military veteran and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died of natural causes in Logan, Utah

Astronaut Don Lind with items he collected during his career.

Astronaut Don Lind with items he collected during his career. Lind, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died on Aug. 30, 2022. He was 92.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


Don Lind described the thrill of blasting into orbit and zero gravity with the crew of the space shuttle Challenger to conduct a scientific mission called Spacelab 3 in the priesthood session of the October 1985 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I was as excited as a little boy going to the circus,” he said.

Some of his personal feelings were deeply spiritual as he gazed down on earth from space, he told the audience. The words of a few scriptures popped into his mind, including “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).

“I am sure you can imagine the closeness I felt to my Father in Heaven as I looked down at one of His beautiful creations,” Lind said. “I was really stirred by an increased awareness of what He did for us as the Creator of our earth. That was one of the most moving experiences of my life.”

Don Leslie Lind, military veteran, pilot, scientist and astronaut, died of natural causes on Aug. 30, 2022, in Logan, Utah. He was 92.

 Astronaut Don L. Lind was born in Midvale, Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah. He flew on the shuttle Challenger in 1985.

Astronaut Don L. Lind was born in Midvale, Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah. He flew on the shuttle Challenger in 1985. Lind died at age 92 on Aug. 30, 2022.

NASA

Lind’s funeral services will be Saturday, Sept. 10, at 11 a.m. at the Smithfield 17th Ward Chapel at 340 E. 300 South in Smithfield, Utah.

Lind’s passing comes only a few months after his wife, Kathleen Lind, who died on June 12.

Carol Lind, the couple’s oldest daughter, knows the separation is only temporary.

“Dad just moved. We’re going to see him again,” she said. “He’s having a party with mom as they get to be together again.”

Born in Murray, Utah, on May, 18, 1930, Lind grew up in Midvale, where he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and graduated from Jordan High School.

Lind served as a full-time missionary in the New England States Mission.

He graduated from the University of Utah and earned a doctorate degree in high-energy nuclear physics from the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory at the University of California-Berkeley, according to his obituary.

Lind was a naval officer and jet fighter pilot, rising to the rank of commander in the United States Navy before becoming a scientist-astronaut who helped to design the Apollo 11 science packages and extravehicular, or EVA, activities, and served as a capsule communicator for the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 missions, the first two manned missions to the moon.

Following his career at NASA, Lind was a physics professor at Utah State University.

Lind and his wife served as public affairs missionaries in the Church’s Europe West Area, as temple missionaries in the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, and, as a counselor and an assistant matron in the presidency of the Portland Oregon Temple. Lind also served a sealer in the Logan Utah Temple for several years.

Carol Lind believes her father’s greatest accomplishment was sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“He spent his entire career giving missionary firesides and speaking at youth conferences. He was a missionary several times,” she said. “All my life I have had people come up to me say, ‘I heard your dad speak at such and so and I’ll never forget it.’ As much as he accomplished as an astronaut, as a human being sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, I think he has done more.”

Mission specialist Don Lind stands by a display in the Johnson Space Center’s visitor center in Houston, Texas, on March 10, 1983.

Mission specialist Don Lind stands by a display in the Johnson Space Center’s visitor center in Houston, Texas, on March 10, 1983.

NASA

Lind was a devout family man. In addition to fun family road trips, Lind looked for ways to share his experiences with his family and often brought home items from training missions, such as pumice, a type of igneous rock from a volcano, or sedimentary rocks from the Grand Canyon, to show and educate his children.

“We had the best family home evenings of anybody in the entire Restoration, I think,” Carol Lind said. “He involved us in everything with NASA. Everything we did, we did as a family, and it was wonderful.”

Carol Lind is most proud of her father for staying true to his Latter-day Saint faith when he believed it would cost him his dream of going into space.

Lind applied to be an astronaut three times and was finally accepted the third time. Thousands submitted applications and the process, which included an FBI background check, was extremely rigorous, she said.

“Dad was sure the FBI knew more about him than his mother,” Carol said.

During an interview with the selection committee, Lind was essentially asked if he would be willing to place his space mission priorities above his Church duties and responsibilities?

Lind responded that his faith commitments were never an issue during his time in the military and he didn’t anticipate it would be a problem for the mission. “Yes, my Church activity is going to continue,” he told the selection committee.

Carol Lind said her father left the interview convinced that he would not be selected, despite the years of dreams, preparation and hard work. What he found out later was the man who asked the question wanted to know if he would stand up for his beliefs. He did and got the job.

Latter-day Saint Don Lind and other astronauts are photographed in space in 1985.

Latter-day Saint Don Lind and other astronauts are photographed in zero gravity space in 1985.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“For me, that is Dad’s absolutely finest hour because he stood up for the gospel of Jesus Christ when he thought he was losing his absolute heart’s desire,” Carol Lind said.

Along with his devotion to faith and family, Lind had a humorous side. One of the running jokes in the family was that dad was always out of town for NASA-related business. His launch with the Challenger mission was April 29, 1985, and his daughter Kim’s birthday was April 30. (The Challenger’s last launch was in 1986.)

Once in orbit, each astronaut was required to send a message to mission control to verify communications were operational. Lind sent a teasing message to his daughter saying, “Kim, look at what lengths I will go to be out of town on your birthday.”

“He cared about people,” Kim Lind Wadsworth told a local television station. “It wasn’t so much about having a fancy job, it was caring about people, and that’s what I love about my dad.”

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