Catherine Coleman

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Catherine Coleman
Catherine Coleman 2009.jpg
Coleman in 2009
Catherine Grace Coleman

(1960-12-14) December 14, 1960 (age 62)
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Space career
NASA Astronaut
RankColonel, USAF, retired
Time in space
180d 04h 00m
Selection1992 NASA Group 14
MissionsSTS-73, STS-93, Soyuz TMA-20 (Expedition 26/27)
Mission insignia
Sts-73-patch.png Sts-93-patch.jpg ISS Expedition 26 Patch.png ISS Expedition 27 Patch.png

Catherine Grace "Cady" Coleman (born December 14, 1960) is an American chemist, an engineer, a former United States Air Force colonel, and a retired NASA astronaut.[1] She is a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, and departed the International Space Station on May 23, 2011, as a crew member of Expedition 27 after logging 159 days in space.


Coleman graduated from Wilbert Tucker Woodson High School, Fairfax, Virginia, in 1978.[1] In 1978–1979, she was an exchange student at Røyken Upper Secondary School in Norway with the AFS Intercultural Programs. She received a B.S. degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1983 and was commissioned as graduate of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (Air Force ROTC).,[2] then received a Ph.D. degree in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1991.[3][1] She was advised by Professor Thomas J. McCarthy on her doctorate.[4][5] As an undergraduate, she was a member of the intercollegiate rowing crew and was a resident of Baker House.[6]

Military career[edit]

Coleman continued to pursue her PhD at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as a second lieutenant. In 1988, she entered active duty at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a research chemist. During her work, she participated as a surface analysis consultant on the NASA Long Duration Exposure Facility experiment. In 1991, she received her doctorate in polymer science and engineering.[1] She retired from the Air Force in November 2009 as a colonel.[1]

NASA career[edit]

Coleman in the ISS in 2011

Coleman was selected by NASA in 1992 to join the NASA Astronaut Corps. In 1995, she was a member of the STS-73 crew on the scientific mission USML-2 with experiments including biotechnology, combustion science, and the physics of fluids. During the flight, she reported to Houston Mission Control that she had spotted an Unidentified flying object (UFO). She also trained for the mission STS-83 to be the backup for Donald A. Thomas; however, as he recovered on time, she did not fly that mission. STS-93 was Coleman's second space flight in 1999. She was mission specialist in charge of deploying the Chandra X-ray Observatory and its Inertial Upper Stage out of the shuttle's cargo bay.[1]

Coleman served as Chief of Robotics for the Astronaut Office, to include robotic arm operations and training for all Space Shuttle and International Space Station missions.[7] In October 2004, Coleman served as an aquanaut during the NEEMO 7 mission aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory, living and working underwater for eleven days.[8][9]

Coleman was assigned as a backup U.S. crew member for Expeditions 19, 20 and 21 and served as a backup crew member for Expeditions 24 and 25 as part of her training for Expedition 26.

Coleman launched on December 15, 2010 (December 16, 2010 Baikonur time), aboard Soyuz TMA-20 to join the Expedition 26 mission aboard the International Space Station.[10] She retired from NASA on December 1, 2016.

Spaceflight experience[edit]

Coleman playing a flute inside the International Space Station in 2011

STS-73 on Space Shuttle Columbia (October 20 to November 5, 1995) was the second United States Microgravity Laboratory (USML-2) mission. The mission focused on materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, the physics of fluids, and numerous scientific experiments housed in the pressurized Spacelab module. In completing her first space flight, Coleman orbited the Earth 256 times, traveled over 6 million miles, and logged a total of 15 days, 21 hours, 52 minutes and 21 seconds in space.

STS-93 on Columbia (July 22 to 27, 1999) was a five-day mission during which Coleman was the lead mission specialist for the deployment of the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Designed to conduct comprehensive studies of the universe, the telescope will enable scientists to study exotic phenomena such as exploding stars, quasars, and black holes. Mission duration was 118 hours and 50 minutes.

Soyuz TMA-20 / Expedition 26/27 (December 15, 2010, to May 23, 2011) was an extended duration mission to the International Space Station.[11]


Coleman is married to glass artist Josh Simpson who lives in Massachusetts.[12] They have one son. She is part of the band Bandella, which also includes fellow NASA astronaut Stephen Robinson, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and Micki Pettit (wife of the astronaut Donald Pettit). Coleman is a flute player and has taken several flutes with her to the ISS, including a pennywhistle from Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains, an old Irish flute from Matt Molloy of The Chieftains, and a flute from Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (band). On February 15, 2011, she played one of the instruments live from orbit on National Public Radio.[13] On April 12, 2011, she played live via video link for the audience of Jethro Tull's show in Russia in honour of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's flight, playing in orbit while Anderson played on the ground.[14][15] On May 13 of that year, Coleman delivered a taped commencement address to the class of 2011 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[16]

As do many other astronauts, Coleman holds an amateur radio license (callsign: KC5ZTH).

As of 2015, she is also known to be working as a guest speaker at the Baylor College of Medicine, for the children's program 'Saturday Morning Science'.

In 2018, she gave a graduation address to Carter Lynch, the sole graduate of Cuttyhunk Elementary School, on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts.[17]

In 2019 the Irish postal service An Post issued a set of commemorative stamps for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landings, Catherine Coleman is featured alongside fellow astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Eileen Collins.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: "Biographical Data: Catherine "Cady" Coleman, Ph.D. (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) NASA Astronaut" (PDF). NASA. December 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  2. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: "Preflight Interview: Catherine Coleman". NASA. October 28, 2010. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
  3. ^ McCarthy Research Group – website of the University of Massachusetts Amherst
  4. ^ "UMass Amherst Alumna Cady Coleman Returning to Space as Part of Shuttle Crew". Office of News & Media Relations | UMass Amherst. Archived from the original on October 11, 2019. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  5. ^ "UMass grad Catherine "Cady" Coleman ready for blastoff". Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  6. ^ McGann, Matt (July 20, 2009). "Celebrating the Moon Landing". MIT Admissions. MIT. Archived from the original on April 27, 2021. Retrieved April 27, 2021. Some background on Cady Coleman: She graduated MIT with a bachelor's degree in Chemistry, lived in my dorm, Baker House, and rowed on the Varsity Crew Team.
  7. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: "NASA – Preflight Interview: Catherine Coleman".
  8. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: "NEEMO 7". NASA. October 13, 2004. Archived from the original on September 25, 2012. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  9. ^ "CSA – Neemo 7 Mission". Canadian Space Agency. August 9, 2004. Archived from the original on March 9, 2012. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  10. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain: NASA Television Will Air Next Soyuz Landing And Launch – Media Advisory : M10-164A – November 18, 2010.
  11. ^ "Blogger".
  12. ^ "Josh Simpson – Contemporary Glass".
  13. ^ "Flutes in Space: Astronaut Plays Aboard Space Station". NPR. Retrieved February 17, 2011.
  14. ^ "Space flutes salute Yuri Gagarin". The Register.
  15. ^ "Ian Anderson + Cady Coleman flute duet in space". YouTube. Archived from the original on November 24, 2021.
  16. ^ "NASA astronaut Catherine 'Cady' Coleman has message from space for 2011 UMass graduates: Work as a team to solve nation's problems".
  17. ^ Taylor, Derrick Bryson (June 5, 2019). "Jenny Slate Will Give a Graduation Speech to a Class of One". The New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  18. ^ Robert Pearlman (July 23, 2019). "Touch Down for Astronaut to unveil Space Exploration stamps".

External links[edit]