Became one of the test pilots for the X-15 program in 1963.
Earned astronaut wings as an X-15 pilot which he flew it 16 times. On three flights, he reached altitudes of more that 50 miles and qualified for astronaut wings therefore becoming the nation’s youngest astronaut at age 32.
Formally selected by NASA for the fifth group of astronaut candidates in 1966 where he was the first and only astronaut recruit to have previously flown into space.
Served on the support crew for Apollo 10 and then became the backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 14.
Commanded the second flight of the space shuttle and was the first person to ever manually fly the spacecraft from its re-entry speed of Mach 25 to a landing.
Commanded the five-man crew of STS-511, which performed the first successful in-orbit rendezvous with, and repair of, a SYSCOM IV-3 satellite.