Astronauts to return to Purdue for reunion

March 14, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University will host a group of its NASA astronaut alumni for a reunion that will culminate with a public forum April 12.

Purdue has had 23 graduates become astronauts, including the late Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and Eugene Cernan, the most recent man to walk on the moon.

Seven of the astronauts are expected to attend the forum, "A Conversation with Our Astronauts," at 7 p.m. in Elliott Hall of Music.

The forum is free, but those attending will need tickets. Tickets are available at the box offices in Elliott Hall of Music and Stewart Center or by calling 765-494-3933.

The reunion coincides with the university's annual Spring Fest on April 12-13. The astronauts will be introduced at halftime of the spring football scrimmage at 1 p.m. April 12 in Ross-Ade Stadium. That event also is free.

The astronauts who are expected to be at the forum are:

* Cernan, who earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1956. He flew on a Gemini flight and two Apollo flights, including Apollo 17, the last flight to the moon.

* Mark Brown, bachelor's in aeronautics and astronautics, 1973. He flew on two space shuttle flights including a five-day defense-related mission in 1989 and logged more than 249 hours in space.

* Andrew Feustel, bachelor's in solid earth sciences, 1989; master's in geophysics, 1991. He flew on two space shuttle missions in 2009 and 2011, conducting several spacewalks to service the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station, respectively.

* Gary Payton, master's in aeronautics and astronautics, 1972. He flew aboard Discovery as a payload specialist in 1985 in the first U.S. Department of Defense mission of the space shuttle program, traveling more than 1.2 million miles in 48 Earth orbits and logging approximately 73 hours in space.  

* Loren Shriver, master's in aeronautics and astronautics, 1968. He is a veteran of three space flights and has more than 386 hours in space.

* Scott Tingle, master's in mechanical engineering, 1988. He is a decorated Navy pilot who became an astronaut in 2012. He is the most recent Purdue alumnus selected by NASA.

* Charles Walker, bachelor's in aeronautics and astronautics, 1971. He is the first Purdue alumnus to fly aboard a space shuttle, serving on three missions as the first industry-sponsored engineer and researcher and becoming the first private astronaut in space.

On April 10 and 11, the astronauts will be on campus, meeting with students and faculty.

Also expected for those days are:

* Gregory Harbaugh, bachelor's in aeronautics and astronautics, 1978. He is a veteran of four spaceflights, flew on the second Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission in 1997 and has logged more than 18 hours in spacewalks.

* David Wolf, bachelor's in electrical engineering, 1978. A medical doctor and inventor, he flew on four space shuttle missions and has logged more than 168 days in space, conducting seven spacewalks totaling 47 hours of extravehicular activity.

For highlights of Purdue's space-related research and historic NASA milestones, go to,-nasa-milestones.html.

More information about the astronauts and Purdue in space is available at 

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, 

Source: Valerie Lawless, University Development Office,  765-496-2842,

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