Roy Bridges Jr. 

MS astronautics ’66
Born: 1943
Mission: STS-51F

Roy D. Bridges Jr.

Roy D. Bridges Jr.

Roy Bridges Jr. piloted the space shuttle Challenger’s 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. The shuttle carried 13 major experiments. 

Before and after his astronaut experience (1980-86), Bridges served as an officer in the United States Air Force, logging 226 combat missions as a pilot in the Vietnam War and serving in numerous leadership and command positions. He retired from the Air Force as a major general in July 1996 following 31 years of service. 

Bridges also directed NASA’s Langley Research Center from 2003-05, following six years as director at John F. Kennedy Space Center. 

He enrolled at Purdue in 1965 after winning a competitive engineering graduate scholarship at the United States Air Force Academy. He and several other Air Force graduates – including roommate and fellow future astronaut John Blaha – participated in a cooperative astronautics master’s program between Purdue and the academy, which they completed in seven months. 

Bridges received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 2001.