Purdue announces addition of 2 more astronauts' papers to flight collection

October 28, 2009 Jim Bush

Janice Voss presents NASA security clearance cards to Purdue President France A. Córdova during a reception Wednesday (Oct. 28) in the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center. Purdue astronaut alumni Voss and Roy Bridges Jr. visited campus to announce the donation of their personal papers to the university. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's flight archives, already steeped with historical artifacts from U.S. space history, is growing thanks to two alumni astronauts.

Janice Voss and Roy Bridges Jr. donated personal papers to the Purdue Libraries Division of Archives and Special Collections. The papers will join those of astronaut alumni Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, and Eugene Cernan, the most recent person to do so.

Purdue President France A. Córvdova announced the addition of the new materials on Wednesday (Oct. 28) in the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center.

Purdue has 22 astronaut alumni and another who began training in August as an astronaut candidate.

"I'm thrilled that two more astronauts have chosen to donate their papers to this university," Córdova said. "Our alumni have taken part in nearly 35 percent of all manned U.S. space flights. They, along with Purdue, have played a defining role in space history. These generous gifts help cement Purdue's place in space and will serve future generations as a historical record and as an inspiration."

Roy Bridges Jr. talks about his time in space during a reception Wednesday (Oct. 28) in the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center. Purdue astronaut alumni Bridges and Janice Voss visited campus to announce the donation of their personal papers to the university. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

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Voss, who was born in South Bend, Ind., and attended high school in Wilbraham, Mass., earned her bachelor's degree in engineering science from Purdue in 1975. She was selected by NASA in 1990 and became an astronaut in 1991. She is a veteran of five space flights, the first of which was aboard the STS57 from June 21 to July 1, 1993. She later was part of space missions in 1995, two in 1997 and the last in 2000. The last mission was an 11-day flight during which the international crew aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour mapped more than 47 million square miles of the Earth's land surface.

Voss, who considers Rockford, Ill., her hometown, currently serves as payloads lead of the Astronaut Office Station Branch. She had previously been science director from 2004-07 for NASA's Kepler Space Observatory, launched to discover Earthlike planets orbiting other stars.

While on campus, Voss will speak to two sections of a Women in Engineering seminar for first-year engineering students on Thursday (Oct. 29). She has often spoken to women engineering students during visits to campus.

"I hope that sharing my personal papers will help motivate the Purdue students following behind me, as taking classes in Grissom Hall did for me," Voss said. "Knowing that someone else got from here to there brightened many of my days at Purdue. Maybe my papers will help someone else feel that they aren't that different from me. If I can do it, then so can they."

Bridges who was born in Atlanta and grew up in Gainesville, Ga., earned a master's degree in astronautics from Purdue in 1966. He was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1980 and was the pilot aboard space shuttle Challenger in 1985. The journey was the first pallet-only Spacelab mission and the first to operate the Spacelab Instrument Pointing System. It carried 13 major experiments.

Bridges is a retired U.S. Air Force major general. He served from August 2003 to October 2005 as director of NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and before that was director of NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center for more than six years. He also was commander of the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.; for the Eastern Space and Missile Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.; and for the 412th Test wing at Edwards. He has received numerous honors, including most recently NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal and the Presidential Meritorious Award.

He is currently an executive with Northrop Grumman Technical Services.

"I was at Purdue a pretty short time, but I've always felt that the university has treated me like I was there for years. So, I've always had a special place in my heart for Purdue," said Bridges, who received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 2001. "I received a great education at Purdue. It's a great university, and I'm happy to be part of the Purdue family. I hope that my papers will help someone else achieve their goals in life."

The addition of the papers from Voss and Bridges will expand a rich and growing collection in Purdue Libraries' Division of Archives and Special Collections. The George Palmer Putnam Collection of Amelia Earhart Papers - the world's largest compilation of papers, memorabilia and artifacts related to the late aviator - along with papers from 1930 graduate and aviation pioneer Ralph Johnson, also are housed there.

"We are truly honored to be entrusted with preserving these collections and providing them as documents and artifacts for the historical record," said James L. Mullins, dean of Purdue Libraries. "Purdue's tradition in U.S. air and space travel will live forever in our archives, thanks to our generous alumni."

Writer: Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu

Sources: France A. Córdova, president@purdue.edu

                 James L. Mullins, 7675-494-2900, jmullins@purdue.edu