Following graduation from Princeton University, Mr. Conrad entered the Navy and became a naval aviator. He then attended the Navy Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, where he was assigned as a project test pilot. Conrad also served as a flight instructor and performance engineer at the Test Pilot School. After completing his tour of duty at Patuxent River, he served as Instructor Pilot in F-4H Phantoms on VF-121 and was then assigned duty in VF-96 on board the USS Ranger.
In September 1962, Mr. Conrad was selected as an astronaut by NASA. His first flight was Gemini V, a flight which established the space endurance record and placed the United States in the lead for man-hours in space. As commander of Gemini XI, Conrad helped to set a world's altitude record. He then served as commander of Apollo XII, the second lunar landing. On Mr. Conrad's final mission he served as commander of Skylab I, the first United States Space Station.
After serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy (11 years as an astronaut in the space program), Mr. Conrad retired from the Navy and accepted a position as Vice President-Operations and Chief Operating Officer of American Television and Communications Corporation (ATC). At ATC he was responsible for operating existing systems and for developing new cable television systems. In 1976 he resigned from ATC to accept the position of Vice President and consultant to McDonnell Douglas Corporation. In 1978 he became Vice President of Marketing and was responsible for all commercial and military sales for the Douglas Aircraft Company. Mr. Conrad then became Senior Vice President-Marketing in 1980. He was appointed as Senior Vice President-Marketing & Product Support in 1982, and then, in 1984, he was named Staff Vice President of International Business Development for McDonnell Douglas Corporation.
In 1990, Mr. Conrad joined the Space Systems Company of McDonnell Douglas and participated in research and development of Space Station Freedom. He then became part of the design team and subsequently Flight Manager for the Space Systems Company's Single-Stage-to-Orbit vehicle, the Delta Clipper or DC-X. After successfully completing its series of flight test, the DC-X was modified, renamed the DC-XA, and turned over to NASA.
Mr. Conrad retired from McDonnell Douglas in 1996 to form Universal Space Lines (USL). Under the leadership of Mr. Conrad, USL has developed an innovative business strategy to develop commercial infrastructure for the growing commercial space industry. USL's long term plan is to provide launch services to space customers operating launch systems in much the same manner as an airline operates commercial aircraft. To effect deployment of this plan, USL has formed three subsidiary companies: Universal Space Network (USN), Rocket Development Company (RDC) and Universal SpaceWare (USW).
Mr. Conrad passed away on July 8, 1999 in a motocycle accident in Ojai, California. He was 69. He is survived by his wife Nancy, three sons and seven grandchildren. A fourth son preceded him in death.