Gary Payton (astronaut)

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Gary E. Payton
Gary Payton.jpg
Born (1948-06-20) June 20, 1948 (age 70)
Other namesGary Eugene Payton
Alma materBradley University
USAFA, B.S. 1971
Purdue University, M.S. 1972
Space career
USAF Astronaut
RankColonel, USAF
Time in space
3d 01h 33m
Selection1979 USAF Group
Mission insignia

Colonel Gary Eugene Payton, USAF, (born June 20, 1948) is an American astronaut, and worked as a payload specialist for NASA.

Payton flew on the STS-51-C mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in January 1985 which launched and returned to land at the Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. STS-51C was the first dedicated Space Shuttle Department of Defense mission. Payton traveled over 1.2 million miles in 48 Earth orbits, and logged more than 73 hours in space.[1]

He is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Schriever Chair in Astronautics at the United States Air Force Academy, teaching Astronautical Engineering.[2]


Payton graduated from high school in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1966. He went on to attend Bradley University, in Peoria, Illinois. After one year at Bradley, he entered the United States Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Astronautical Engineering in 1971. He continued with his graduate education at Purdue University School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, in West Lafayette, Indiana, earning a Master of Science degree in Astronautical and Aeronautical Engineering in 1972. He graduated from pilot training at Craig AFB, in Alabama in 1973.


Payton served as a Spacecraft Test Controller from 1976 to 1980, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, in Florida. He was selected for the USAF Manned Spaceflight Engineer Program in February 1980.

Payton is a former Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space Programs.[3][4]

He has accumulated at least 1,080 hours in T-37, T-38 and T-39 aircraft.

Personal Life[edit]

Gary Payton is married to Sue Payton and they have a daughter Courtney.[5]


External links[edit]