Purdue astronauts to discuss past, future space flight

April 9, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Seven Purdue University NASA astronaut alumni will discuss their experiences in space and their thoughts on what's ahead for human space flight at a public forum Saturday (April 12).

Purdue President Mitch Daniels will moderate the forum, "A Conversation with Our Astronauts," which begins at 7 p.m. in Elliott Hall of Music. Daniels is co-chair of a National Research Council committee that is reviewing and making recommendations on the future of the U.S. human spaceflight program.

Purdue has had 23 graduates become astronauts, including the late Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, and Eugene Cernan, the most recent person to walk on the moon. Purdue graduates flew on Gemini and Apollo flights, 47 space shuttle missions and on the International Space Station.

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 aeronautical and astronautical engineering, 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 Thursday and Friday (April 10 and 11), the astronauts will be on campus and in the community, 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 http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2014/Q2/purdue-has-legacy-of-space-research,-nasa-milestones.html.

More information about the astronauts and Purdue in space is available at http://www.purdue.edu/space/.

Writer: Judith Barra Austin, 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu 

Source: Valerie Lawless, 765-496-2842, VAlawless@prf.org 

Note to Journalists: Media are invited to attend the Saturday evening forum. Those wishing to attend are asked to contact Judith Barra Austin, Purdue News Service, at 765-494-2432, jbaustin@purdue.edu. Video from the forum will be posted at http://www.purdue.edu/space/

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