Linda M. Godwin

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Linda Maxine Godwin
Linda Godwin.jpg
Born (1952-07-02) July 2, 1952 (age 68)
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Time in space
38d 06h 13m
Selection1985 NASA Group
MissionsSTS-37, STS-59, STS-76, STS-108
Mission insignia
Sts-37-patch.pngSTS-59 mission insignia.svgSts-76-patch.pngSTS-108 Patch.svg

Linda Maxine Godwin Ph.D. (born July 2, 1952) is an American scientist and retired NASA astronaut.[1] Godwin joined NASA in 1980 and became an astronaut in July 1986. She retired in 2010. During her career, Godwin completed four space flights and logged over 38 days in space. Godwin also served as the Assistant to the Director for Exploration, Flight Crew Operations Directorate at the Johnson Space Center. Since retiring from NASA, she accepted the position of Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Missouri.[2]

Early life[edit]

Godwin was born July 2, 1952, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, but her hometown is Jackson, Missouri. She graduated from Jackson High School in Jackson, Missouri, in 1970, then received a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and physics from Southeast Missouri State University in 1974, and a Master of Science degree and a Doctorate in physics from the University of Missouri in 1976 and 1980.

Personal life[edit]

Godwin is a member of the American Physical Society, the Ninety-Nines, Inc., Association of Space Explorers, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Godwin was engaged to NASA engineer James Simons at the time of his death in a plane crash, which also killed astronaut Steve Thorne in May 1986.[3]

Godwin later married fellow astronaut Steven Nagel and remained married until his death from cancer on August 21, 2014.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • NASA Outstanding Performance Rating
  • Sustained Superior Performance Award
  • Outstanding Leadership Award.

Academic experience[edit]

After completing undergraduate studies in physics and mathematics at Southeast Missouri State University, Godwin attended graduate school at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. During that time she taught undergraduate physics labs and was the recipient of several research assistantships. She conducted research in low temperature solid state physics, including studies in electron tunneling and vibrational modes of absorbed molecular species on metallic substrates (surfaces) at liquid helium temperatures. Results of her research have been published in several journals.

Godwin is an instrument rated private pilot.

NASA career[edit]

Godwin joined NASA in 1980, in the Payload Operations Division, Mission Operations Directorate, where she worked in payload integration (attached payloads and Spacelabs), and as a flight controller and payloads officer on several Space Shuttle missions.

Selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in June 1985, Godwin became an astronaut in July 1986. Her technical assignments have included working with flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), and coordinating mission development activities for the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS), deployable payloads, and Spacelab missions. She also has served as Chief of Astronaut Appearances, Chief of the Mission Development Branch of the Astronaut Office and as the astronaut liaison to its Educational Working Group, Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office, and Deputy Director, Flight Crew Operations Directorate. Godwin is currently the Assistant to the Director for Exploration, Flight Crew Operations Directorate at the Johnson Space Center.

A veteran of four space flights, Godwin has logged over 38 days in space, including over ten EVA hours in two spacewalks. In 1991 she served as a Mission Specialist on STS-37, was the Payload Commander on STS-59 in 1994, flew on STS-76 in 1996, a Mir docking mission, and served on STS-108/International Space Station Flight UF-1 in 2001.[4]

Spaceflight experience[edit]

Godwin performs a spacewalk on STS-108.

STS-37 Atlantis (April 5 - April 11, 1991) was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and returned to land at Edwards Air Force Base, California. During the 93 orbits of the mission, the crew deployed the Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO) to study gamma ray sources in the universe. GRO, at almost 35,000 pounds (16 Mg), was the heaviest payload deployed to date by the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (RMS). The crew also conducted an unscheduled space walk to free the GRO high gain antenna, and conducted the first scheduled extravehicular activity in 5½ years to test concepts for moving about large space structures. Several middeck experiments and activities were conducted including test of elements of a heat pipe to study fluid transfer processed in microgravity environments (SHARE), a chemical processing apparatus to characterize the structure of biological materials (BIMDA), and an experiment to grow larger and more perfect protein crystals than can be grown on the ground (PCG II). Atlantis carried amateur radio equipment for voice contact, fast scan and slow scan TV, and packet radio. Several hundred contacts were made with amateur radio operators around the world. Mission duration was 143 hours, 32 minutes, 44 seconds.

STS-59 Endeavour (April 9 - April 20, 1994) was the Space Radar Laboratory (SRL) mission. SRL consisted of three large radars, SIR-C/X-SAR (Shuttle Imaging Radar C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar), and a carbon monoxide sensor that were used to enhance studies of the Earth's surface and atmosphere. The imaging radars operated in three frequencies and four polarizations. This multispectral capability of the radars provided information about the Earth's surface over a wide range of scales not discernible with previous single-frequency experiments. The carbon monoxide sensor MAPS (Measurement of Air Pollution by Satellite) used gas filter radiometry to measure the global distribution of CO in the troposphere. Real-time crew observations of surface phenomena and climatic conditions augmented with over 14,000 photographs aided investigators in interpretation and calibration of the data. The mission concluded with a landing at Edwards AFB after orbiting the Earth 183 times in 269 hours, 29 minutes.

Godwin is at top right in an EMU suit

STS-76 Atlantis (March 22 - March 31, 1996) was the third docking mission to the Russian space station Mir. Following rendezvous and docking with Mir, transfer of a NASA astronaut to Mir for a 5-month stay was accomplished to begin a continuous presence of United States astronauts aboard Mir for the next two-year period. The crew also transferred 4800 pounds (2,200 kg) of science and mission hardware, food, water and air to Mir and returned over 1100 pounds (500 kg) of U.S. and ESA science and Russian hardware. Godwin performed a six-hour spacewalk, the first while docked to an orbiting space station, to mount experiment packages on the Mir docking module to detect and assess debris and contamination in a space station environment. The packages will be retrieved by a future shuttle mission. The Spacehab module carried in the Shuttle payload bay was utilized extensively for transfer and return stowage of logistics and science and also carried Biorack, a small multipurpose laboratory used during this mission for research of plant and animal cellular function. This mission was also the first flight of Kidsat, an electronic camera controlled by classroom students via a Ku-band link between JSC Mission Control and the Shuttle, which uses digital photography from the Shuttle for science and education. The STS-76 mission was accomplished in 145 orbits of the Earth, traveling 3.8 million miles (6.1 Gm) in 221 hours and 15 minutes.

STS-108 Endeavour (December 5 - December 17, 2001) was the 12th shuttle flight to visit the International Space Station. Endeavour's crew delivered the Expedition-4 crew and returned the Expedition-3 crew. The crew unloaded over 3 short tons (2.7 Mg) of supplies, logistics and science experiments from the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module and repacked over 2 short tons (1.8 Mg) of items no longer needed on the station for return to Earth. Godwin used the Shuttle's robotic arm to install the MPLM onto the Station Node, and participated in a space walk to wrap thermal blankets around ISS Solar Array Beta Gimbal Assemblies. STS-108 was accomplished in 185 Earth orbits, traveling 4.8 million miles (7.7 Gm) in 283 hours and 36 minutes.



  • Diane L. Evans; Ellen R. Stofan; Thomas D. Jones & Linda M. Godwin (December 1994). "Earth From Sky: Radar Systems Carried Aloft by the Space Shuttle Endeavour Provide a New Perspective of the Earth's Environment". Scientific American. 271 (6): 44–49. Bibcode:1994SciAm.271d..44W. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1094-44.
  • NASA Biography


  1. ^ "Astronaut bio: Linda M.Godwin". National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Two Former Astronauts Make MU Their Home". University of Missouri. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
  3. ^ Burgess, Colin (2019). Shattered Dreams: The Lost and Canceled Space Missions2. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-1496206756.
  4. ^ Becker, Joachim. "Astronaut Biography: Linda Godwin".