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Born Oct. 3, 1935, in Charlotte, N.C. American astronaut, lieutenant colonel of the USAF.
Duke graduated from a college in St. Petersburg, Fla., and received the degrees of bachelor of naval science from the US Naval Academy in 1957 and master of science in aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1964. He served at US Air Force bases in Georgia and Texas and then at the Ramstein air base in West Germany. After graduating in 1965 from a school for training pilots for space exploration, he worked at that school as a designer of control systems. In 1966 he joined a group of astronauts at NASA. Duke was an alternate to F. Haise, the pilot of the lunar landing module of spacecraft Apollo 13.
On Apr. 16-27, 1972, Duke, J. Young, and T. Mattingly made a flight to the moon on the spacecraft Apollo 16, Duke being the pilot of the lunar landing module. The module with Duke and Young on board made a landing on the moon in the region of the Descartes Crater on Apr. 21, 1972. Duke spent 71 hours and 2 minutes on the moon, during which he made three excursions totaling 20 hours and 14 minutes. The exploration program included searches for traces of volcanic activity on the moon. Duke and Young moved about the surface of the moon in a lunar rover.