Stuart A. Roosa was born August 16, 1933, in Durango, Colorado. His father worked for the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the family traveled extensively, eventually settling in Claremore, Oklahoma. After graduating from Claremore High School, he received a Bachelor of Science with honors in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Colorado, under the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology Program. He also completed the Advanced Management Course at Harvard Business School in 1973.
Roosa served on active duty in the Air Force from 1953 to 1976, retiring as a colonel. His early duties included maintenance flight test pilot at Olmstead Air Force Base (AFB), Pennsylvania; chief of service engineering at Tachikawa Air Base, Japan; fighter pilot at Langley AFB, Virginia, and experimental test pilot at Edwards AFB, California. He logged 5,500 hours of flying time, including 5,000 hours in jet aircraft.
Stuart Roosa was one of nineteen astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. His only space flight was the third lunar landing mission, Apollo 14, from January 31 to February 9, 1971. His crewmates were Spacecraft Commander Alan Shepard and Lunar Module pilot Edgar Mitchell. Enroute to the moon, Roosa, as Command Module pilot, had difficulty docking his command ship Kitty Hawk to the Lunar Module Antares. Roosa’s skillful flying finally succeeded in linking the modules. On February 5, Shepard and Mitchell landed Antares in the lunar Fra Mauro highlands, while Roosa orbited the moon for 35 hours. With the safe return of Apollo 14, Roosa logged a total of 216 hours and 42 minutes in space.
In 1972, Colonel Roosa was the backup Command Module pilot for Apollo 16 and 17. In July of 1974, the cancellation of the proposed Apollo 20 mission ended his chance to be the commander of a lunar mission. Instead, he headed the space shuttle program until he retired from NASA and the Air Force on February 1, 1976. In his career he earned the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; the JSC Superior Achievement Award (1970); Air Force Command Pilot Astronaut Wings; the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal; the Arnold Air Society’s John F. Kennedy Award (1971); the City of New York Gold Medal in 1971; and the American Astronautical Society’s Flight Achievement Award for 1971.
Colonel Roosa held managerial positions with several companies, including Corporate Vice President, International Operations, U.S. Industries; President of USI’s Middle East Development Company, Athens, Greece; and Vice President, Advanced Planning, Charles Kenneth Campbell Investments. Moving to Mississippi in 1981, he became President and owner of Gulf Coast Coors, a position he held until his death in Fairfax, Virginia on December 12, 1994. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.
“Stuart Roosa was one of the ‘can-do’ space-farers that helped take America and all humankind to the moon,” said Daniel S. Goldin, chief of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the time of Roosa’s death. ‘He exemplified the talents that all of NASA strives for service to our nation, technical know-how, and an unbridled creative spirit.'”