George Nelson (astronaut)
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|George D. Nelson|
July 13, 1950 |
Charles City, Iowa, U.S.
|George Driver Nelson|
|Science educator, physicist, astronomer|
|Harvey Mudd College, B.S. 1972
UW, M.S. 1974, Ph.D. 1978
Time in space
|17d 02h 43m|
|Selection||1978 NASA Group 8|
|Missions||STS-41-C, STS-61-C, STS-26|
|Retirement||June 30, 1989|
Early life and education
Nelson was born on July 13, 1950, in Charles City, Iowa, but considers Willmar, Minnesota, to be his hometown. Pinky enjoys playing golf, reading, swimming, running and music. He graduated from Willmar Senior High School, Willmar, Minnesota, in 1968. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Harvey Mudd College in 1972 and a Master of Science degree and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Astronomy from the University of Washington in 1974 and 1978, respectively.
His wife Susie is from Alhambra, California. They have two daughters, Aimee Tess (born April 25, 1972) and Marti Ann (born February 27, 1975).
Dr. Nelson performed astronomical research at the Sacramento Peak Solar Observatory, Sunspot, New Mexico; the Astronomical Institute at Utrecht (Utrecht, Netherlands) and the University of Göttingen Observatory, (Göttingen, West Germany), and at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (Boulder, Colorado). His current research is in systemic education reform and the preparation of science teachers.
George was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. He flew as a scientific equipment operator in the WB 57-F earth resources aircraft and served as the Astronaut Office representative in the Space Shuttle Extravehicular Mobility Unit (space suit) development effort. During STS-1 he was the photographer in the prime chase plane. He also served as support crewman and CAPCOM for the last two OFT flights, STS-3 and STS-4, and as head of the Astronaut Office Mission Development Group. A veteran of three space flights, Nelson served aboard STS-41-C in 1984, STS-61C in 1986 and STS-26 in 1988. He has logged a total of 411 hours in space, including 10 hours of EVA flight time.
This was a seven-day (April 6–13, 1984) mission during which the crew successfully deployed the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), retrieved the ailing Solar Maximum satellite, repaired it on board the Orbiter, and replaced it in orbit. The mission also included flight testing of Manned Maneuvering Units (MMUs) in two extravehicular activities (EVAs), and operation of the Cinema 360 and IMAX Camera Systems.
This mission, from January 12–18, 1986, launched from the Kennedy Space Center and returned to a night landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California. During the six-day flight, the crew deployed the SATCOM KU satellite and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing.
This mission (September 29–October 3, 1988) was the first flown after the Challenger accident. During the four-day flight, the crew successfully deployed the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-C) and operated eleven mid-deck science experiments.
Nelson left NASA in 1989, became an assistant provost at the University of Washington, and now directs the Science, Mathematics and Technology Education program at Western Washington University in Bellingham. He is also the principal investigator of the North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership, a mathematics and science partnership grant from the National Science foundation.
NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 3 NASA Space Flight Medals, AIAA Haley Space Flight Award, Federation Aeronautique Internationale's V. M. Komarov Diploma, Western Washington University Faculty Outstanding Service Award. In 2009, Nelson was inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.
- Stricherz, Vince. "UW grads are astronaut candidates." University Week, 9 July 1998.
- U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame at KSC Visitor Complex - Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, retrieved 2009-05-04
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