Purdue in Space

Our Astronauts

Below are the names of Purdue University graduates who have gone on to become astronauts and who have flown in space. In addition, Scott Tingle, who earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering in 1988, has been selected for two space missions starting in 2017.

Neil A. Armstrong

Armstrong NASA bio
Purdue Armstrong page

BS '55, Aeronautical Engineering, Purdue

MS '70, Aerospace Engineering, University of Southern California

On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the moon’s surface, speaking the famous words, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” He served as commander of this historic Apollo 11 mission, on which he also became the first person to land a spacecraft on the moon. Three years earlier, Armstrong performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission. He became an astronaut in 1962 and retired from the space program in 1971. He received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 1970.

Gemini-Titan VIII, Apollo 11

John E. Blaha

Blaha NASA bio

BS ’65, Engineering Science, U.S. Air Force Academy

MS ’66, Astronautics, Purdue

John Blaha was selected as an astronaut in 1980 and went on to log 161 days in space on five missions. Among them, he commanded STS-58 Columbia in 1993, which was recognized by management as the most successful and efficient Spacelab flight ever flown by NASA. On the 14-day flight, crew members conducted medical experiments on themselves and 48 rats, expanding our knowledge of human and animal physiology. From September 1996 to January 1997, Blaha conducted material science, fluid science and life science research aboard the Russian space station Mir.

STS-29, 33, 43, 58, 79, 81

Roy D. Bridges Jr.

Bridges NASA bio

BS ’65, Engineering Science, U.S. Air Force Academy

MS ’66, Astronautics, Purdue

Roy Bridges was selected for astronaut training in 1980 and piloted the Spacelab-2 mission (STS-51F) in 1985, which was the first pallet-only spacelab mission and the first mission to operate the spacelab instrument pointing system (IPS). The shuttle carried 13 major experiments. Bridges received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 2001.

STS-51F

Mark N. Brown

Brown NASA bio

BS ’73, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Purdue

MS ’80, Astronautical Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology

Mark Brown served as a mission specialist on STS-28 in 1989, which carried department of defense payloads and a number of secondary payloads. In 1991, he served as a crew member on STS-48, helping to deploy the upper atmosphere research satellite (UARS), a 14,500-pound observatory for studying the atmospheric layer 7 to 10 miles from earth’s surface. Brown became an astronaut in 1985.

STS-28, 48

John H. Casper

BS ’66, Engineering Science, U.S. Air Force Academy

MS ’67, Astronautics, Purdue

John Casper was selected for astronaut training in 1984 and has since logged more than 825 hours in space. He completed his first mission in 1990, serving as pilot of STS-36. In 1993, he commanded STS-54, which deployed a $200 million NASA tracking and data relay satellite. The next year, Casper oversaw two weeks of microgravity research as commander of STS-62. And on his final shuttle mission — STS-77 in 1996 — he served as commander on a crew that performed a record number of rendezvous sequences.

STS-36, 54, 62, 77

Eugene A. Cernan

Cernan NASA bio

BS ’56, Electrical Engineering, Purdue

MS ’64, Aeronautical Engineering, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School

Eugene Cernan was selected for the astronaut program in 1963. On the Gemini 9 mission in 1966, he became the second American to walk in space. On his next mission — Apollo 10 in 1969 — he piloted a lunar module that descended to within eight nautical miles of the moon’s surface. And in 1972, as commander of Apollo 17, Cernan landed a spacecraft on the moon and then spent a record amount of time on the lunar surface, becoming the last person to leave his footprints on the moon. He received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 1970.

Gemini-Titan IX-A, Apollo 10, Apollo 17

Roger B. Chaffee

Chaffee NASA bio

BS ’57, Aeronautical Engineering, Purdue

Roger Chaffee was assigned as a pilot for NASA’s first scheduled three-person space flight, Apollo 1. Tragically, during a simulated launch of the spacecraft in 1967 at Cape Kennedy, Fla., a flash fire took the lives of this rookie astronaut and his colleagues Gus Grissom and Ed White.

Richard O. Covey

Covey NASA bio

BS ’68, Engineering Sciences, U.S. Air Force Academy

MS ’69, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue

As pilot of STS-51I in 1985, Richard Covey took part in the rendezvous and repair of the ailing 15,000-pound SYNCO M IV-3 satellite. He piloted STS-26 in 1988 — the first shuttle flight flown after the Challenger accident. He served as commander of STS-38 in 1990, and he commanded STS-61 in 1993, which serviced and repaired the Hubble space telescope. Covey became an astronaut in 1979.

STS-51I, 26, 38, 61

Andrew J. Feustel

Feustel NASA bio

AS ’86, Oakland Community College (Michigan)

BS ’89, Solid Earth Sciences, Purdue

MS ’91, Geophysics, Purdue

PhD ’95, Geological Sciences, Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario)

In 2009, Andrew Feustel served on the final space shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, STS-125 Atlantis. The mission successfully extended and improved the observatory’s capabilities through 2014. Feustel logged nearly 13 days in space on the mission and performed three spacewalks totaling 20 hours and 58 minutes. Feustel will take his first long-duration mission as flight engineer of Expedition 55, scheduled to launch in March 2018. He joins fellow Purdue graduate and first-time astronaut Scott Tingle.

STS-125, 134

Guy S. Gardner

Gardner NASA bio

BS ’69, Astronautics, Engineering Sciences and Mathematics, U.S. Air Force Academy

MS ’70, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue

Guy Gardner was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1980. He served as a pilot on STS-27 in 1988, which carried a department of defense payload. In 1990, he piloted STS-35, which carried the ASTRO-1 astronomy laboratory consisting of three ultraviolet telescopes and one X-ray telescope.

STS-27, 35

Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom

Grissom NASA bio

BS ’50, Mechanical Engineering, Purdue

In 1959, Nasa selected Virgil “Gus” Grissom as one of seven astronauts for the pioneering Project Mercury, the United States’ first attempt at manned space flight. Grissom piloted the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft on a 15-minute suborbital flight in 1961, becoming the second American in space. As command pilot of Gemini 3 in 1965, he participated in the United States’ first two-person space flight. On Jan. 27, 1967, Grissom and astronauts Roger Chaffee and Ed White died at Cape Kennedy, Fla., when a flash fire consumed their Apollo 1 spacecraft.

Mercury-Redstone 4, Gemini-Titan III

Gregory J. Harbaugh

Harbaugh NASA bio

BS ’78, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Purdue

MS ’86, Physical Science, University of Houston-Clear Lake

A veteran of four space flights, Gregory Harbaugh became an astronaut in 1988. He did a four-hour, 28-minute spacewalk as a flight engineer on STS-54 in 1993, which deployed a NASA tracking and data relay satellite. He also was responsible for the in-flight operation of the docking system aboard STS-71 in 1995, the first docking with the Russian space station Mir. In 1997, Harbaugh flew aboard STS-82, where crew members did upgrades and repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope. On this mission, he participated in two spacewalks that totaled 14 hours and one minute.

STS-39, 54, 71, 82

Michael J. Mcculley

McCulley NASA bio

BS ’70, Metallurgical Engineering, Purdue

MS ’70, Metallurgical Engineering, Purdue

Selected for astronaut training in 1984, Michael McCulley has logged a total of 119 hours and 41 minutes in space. in 1989, he piloted STS-34, working with crew members to successfully deploy the Galileo spacecraft on its journey to explore Jupiter.

STS-34

Gary E. Payton

BS ’71, Astronautical Engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy

MS ’72, Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue

Gary Payton was selected for the U.S. Air Force Manned Space Flight Engineer Program in February 1980. Nearly five years later, he served as a payload specialist for the space shuttle program’s first military mission, STS-51C. By the end of the mission, Payton had traveled over 1.2 million miles in 48 earth orbits and logged more than 73 hours in space.

STS-51C

Mark L. Polansky

Polansky NASA bio

BS ’78, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Purdue

MS ’78, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Purdue

Selected for astronaut training in 1996, Mark Polansky has since logged more than 993 hours in space on three space flights. He served as pilot of STS-98 in 2001 and as mission commander of both STS-116 in 2006 and STS-127 in 2009. All three of Polansky’s missions have serviced the international space station.

STS-98, 116, 127

Jerry L. Ross

BS ’70, Mechanical Engineering, Purdue

MS ’72, Mechanical Engineering, Purdue

A veteran of seven space flights, Jerry Ross has spent more than 1,393 hours in space, including 58 hours and 18 minutes on nine spacewalks. Among his missions, he flew as a mission specialist on STS-37 in 1991, which deployed the 35,000-pound Gamma ray observatory. On the Spacelab D-2 (STS-55) mission in 1993, he worked with fellow crew members in conducting nearly 90 experiments. Then, aboard STS-74 in 1995, he participated in NASA’s second shuttle docking with the Russian space station Mir. In 1998, Ross served on STS-88, which was the first international space station assembly mission. He completed his seventh mission in 2002, serving as a mission specialist on STS-110.

STS-61B, 27, 37, 55, 74, 88, 110

Loren J. Shriver

Shriver NASA Bio

BS ’67, Aeronautical Engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy

MS ’68, Astronautics, Purdue

Loren Shriver was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1978. As pilot of STS-51C in 1985, he took part in a mission for the Department of Defense. Five years later, he served as commander of STS-31, a five-day mission on which crew members deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. Shriver also served as commander of STS-46 in 1992.

STS-51C, 31, 46

Scott D. Tingle

Tingle NASA bio

BS ’87, Mechanical Engineering, Southeastern Massachusetts University

MS ’88, Mechanical Engineering, Purdue

Scott Tingle received assignment to two International Space Station Expeditions (53 and 54) beginning in September 2017. Tingle has been training in Russia and will be the only U.S. astronaut scheduled for both missions. Joining him for the space station mission will be fellow Purdue graduate and astronaut Drew Feustel.

Janice E. Voss

Voss NASA bio

BS ’75, Engineering Science, Purdue

MS ’77, Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

PhD ’87, Aeronautics/Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Janice Voss became an astronaut in 1991. A mission specialist, she first flew aboard STS-57 in 1993. She then flew on STS-63 in 1995, which rendezvoused with the Russian space station Mir. In 1997, she served as payload commander on STS-83. This mission was cut short due to problems with one of the shuttle’s three fuel cell power generation units, but the entire crew and payload reflew on STS-94 three months later. Voss’ most recent mission — her fifth — was STS-99 in 2000.

STS-57, 63, 83, 94, 99

Charles D. Walker

BS ’71, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Purdue

While an employee of the McDonnell Douglas Corp., Charles Walker was confirmed by NASA in 1983 as the first industrial payload specialist. He accompanied the McDonnell Douglas continuous-flow electrophoresis (CFES) equipment as a crew member on space shuttle missions 41D, 51D and 61B, accumulating 20 days of experience in space and traveling 8.2 million miles.

STS-41D, 51D, 61B

Mary Ellen Weber

Weber NASA bio

BS ’84, Chemical Engineering, Purdue

PhD ’88, Physical Chemistry, University of California-Berkeley

Mary Ellen Weber was selected for NASA’s 14th group of astronauts in 1992. She served aboard STS-70 discovery in 1995, helping to deploy a NASA tracking and data relay satellite and send it into orbit 22,000 miles above the equator. In 2000, Weber served aboard STS-101 Atlantis, the third shuttle mission devoted to international space station construction.

STS-70, 101

Donald E. Williams

Williams NASA bio

BS ’64, Mechanical Engineering, Purdue

Selected for astronaut training in 1978, Donald Williams served as pilot of STS-51D discovery in 1985, which saw the release of two communications satellites. Four years later, he commanded STS-34 Atlantis, which successfully deployed the Galileo spacecraft, starting its journey to explore Jupiter.

STS-51D, 34

David A. Wolf

Wolf NASA bio

BS ’78, Electrical Engineering, Purdue

MD ’82, Indiana University

Selected as a NASA astronaut in 1990, David Wolf has logged 168 days, 12 hours and 56 minutes in space on four missions. He served as a mission specialist on STS-58 Columbia in 1993, which was recognized by NASA as the most successful and efficient spacelab flight ever flown. He completed the NASA-Mir 6 mission from September 1997 to January 1998, conducting his tasks aboard the Russian space station Mir entirely in the Russian language. His most recent missions — STS-112 Atlantis in 2002 and STS-127 Endeavor in 2009 — have focused on assembly of the international space station.

STS-58, 86, 89, 127

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