Ronald J. Garan Jr.

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Ronald J. Garan Jr.
Ronald J. Garan.jpg
Born (1961-10-30) October 30, 1961 (age 60)
Alma materSUNY College at Oneonta, B.S. 1982
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, M.A.S. 1994
University of Florida, M.S. 1996
OccupationFighter pilot
Chief pilot at World View Enterprises
Space career
NASA Astronaut
RankColonel, USAF
Time in space
177 days, 23 hours, 54 minutes
Selection2000 NASA Group
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
27h 3m
MissionsSTS-124, Soyuz TMA-21 (Expedition 27/28)
Mission insignia
STS-124 patch.svg ISS Expedition 27 Patch.png ISS Expedition 28 Patch.png

Ronald John Garan Jr. (born October 30, 1961)[1][2] is a retired NASA astronaut. After graduating from State University of New York College at Oneonta in 1982, he joined the Air Force, becoming a Second Lieutenant in 1984. He became an F-16 pilot, and flew combat missions in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Before becoming an astronaut he was the Operations Officer of the 40th Flight Test Squadron (FTS). He first flew in space as a Mission Specialist on the May 2008 STS-124 mission to the International Space Station (ISS).[1] He returned to ISS on April 4, 2011, for a six-month stay as a member of Expedition 27.[1][2]


Born on October 30, 1961, in Yonkers, New York, Ron Garan is of Russian descent.[3] He married Carmel Courtney.[when?] They have three sons.

His father, Ronald Garan Sr., resides in Yonkers. His mother, Linda Lichtblau, resides in Port St. Lucie, Florida, with her husband, Peter Lichtblau.[1]

A devout Roman Catholic, Garan's interests include running, football, coaching and teaching Sunday School classes to children.[2] [4][5]

His description of coming back to Earth in a Soyuz capsule was "like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel (that's on fire) followed by a high speed crash".[6]

Garan serves on the Advisory Council of Represent.Us, a nonpartisan anti-corruption organization.[7]


Garan graduated from Roosevelt High School in Yonkers, New York, in 1979. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business economics from the State University of New York College at Oneonta in 1982; a Masters of Aeronautical Science degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 1994; and a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Florida, 1996.[1]


Garan is the founder of the Fragile Oasis project, aimed at further integrating space and planetary sciences and the promotion of user projects "connecting space and Earth". He is also the vice president of Spaceship Earth Grants, whose mission is to make space more accessible through human spaceflight and parabolic flight awards to individual applicants.[9]

Awards and honors[edit]

Garan's military decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross for Combat Valor, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Award, Kuwait Liberation Medal, NASA Superior Accomplishment Award, NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, and various other service awards. He received the Distinguished Graduate and Top Academic Award USAF Fighter Weapons School; was twice selected as Top Academic Instructor Pilot: USAF Weapons School; USAF Weapons School and USAF Weapons and Tactics Center: Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault Award; Distinguished Graduate Squadron Officers School; Top Academic Award F-16 Replacement Training Unit (RTU). He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the State University of New York.[1]

Military career[edit]

Garan received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force from the Air Force Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in 1984. Upon completion, he attended Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Vance AFB, Oklahoma and earned his wings in 1985. He then completed F-16 training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona and reported to Hahn Air Base in former West Germany where he served as a combat ready F-16 pilot in the 496th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS), from 1986–88. In March 1988, he was reassigned to the 17th TFS, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, where he served as an instructor pilot, evaluator pilot, and combat ready F-16 pilot. While stationed at Shaw he attended the USAF Fighter Weapons School, graduating in 1989, and then returned to the 17th TFS to assume the position of Squadron Weapons Officer. From August 1990 through March 1991, he deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm where he flew combat missions in the F-16.[1]

In 1991, Garan was reassigned to the USAF Weapons School where he served as an F-16 Weapons School Instructor Pilot, Flight Commander and Assistant Operations Officer. In 1994, he was reassigned to the 39th Flight Test Squadron (39th FTS), Eglin Air Force Base, Florida where he served as a developmental test pilot and chief F-16 pilot. Garan attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, from January to December 1997, after which he was reassigned to the 39th FTS, Eglin Air Force Base, where he served as the Director of the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile Combined Test Force. Garan was the Operations Officer of the 40th Flight Test Squadron when he was selected as an astronaut for NASA. He has logged over 5,000 hours in more than thirty different aircraft.[1]

On June 1, 2009, Garan retired from the Air Force.[1]

NASA career[edit]

Garan participates in the first spacewalk of the STS-124 mission.

Selected as a pilot by NASA in July 2000, Colonel Garan reported for training in August 2000. Following the completion of two years of training and evaluation, he was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Station and Shuttle Operations Branches.[1]

In April 2006, Garan became an aquanaut through his participation in the joint NASA-National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NEEMO 9 (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) project, an exploration research mission held in Aquarius, the world's only undersea research laboratory. During this eighteen-day mission, the six-person crew of NEEMO 9 developed lunar surface exploration procedures and telemedical technology applications in support of the United States' Vision for Space Exploration.[1][10] Ron Garan completed his first space flight in 2008 on STS-124 as Mission Specialist 2 for ascent and entry, and has logged over 13 days in space and 27 hours and 3 minutes of EVA in four spacewalks.[1]

Spaceflight experience[edit]

Garan stands in front of the Soyuz TMA-21 booster which carried him to space in April 2011.

STS-124 also delivered a new station crew member, Expedition 17 Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff. He replaced Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman, who returned to Earth with the STS-124 crew. The STS-124 mission was completed in 218 orbits, traveling 5,735,643 miles in 13 days, 18 hours, 13 minutes and 7 seconds.[1]

  • Ron Garan's second mission was as a crew member on Expedition 27/28.[11] His Soyuz TMA-21 launch craft was named Gagarin in honor of the 50th anniversary, eight days after its launch on April 4, of the first human spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin.[12] Garan participated in the last space-shuttle-based spacewalk during the STS-135 mission, accumulating an additional 6 hours and 31 minutes of Extra-vehicular activity time. He returned to Earth aboard TMA-21 on September 16, 2011.[13]

The Soyuz TMA-21 "Gagarin" descent module is in permanent exhibition at the German Titov Museum in Polkovnikovo, Altai Kray, Siberia.

Soyuz descent module


Before his flight aboard Discovery in 2008, Garan asked the women religious of a Carmelite community in New Caney, Texas, for their prayers and told them he could take an item into space for them. The sisters gave him relics of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and quoted her words:

I have the vocation of an apostle. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach your name and to plant your glorious cross on infidel soil. But oh, my beloved, one mission would not be enough for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on all five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages.

Garan is the founder of the Manna Energy Foundation, which is assisting the villages of Rwanda to make potable water.[4]

On June 24, 2009, Garan met Pope Benedict XVI at his general audience.[4]

Post-NASA career[edit]

In 2014, Garan retired from NASA to work on communicating what he called the "Orbital Perspective". He has published a book called The Orbital Perspective - Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles and is working on a documentary called Orbital.[14]

On February 23, 2016, World View Enterprises has announced that Ron Garan will be chief pilot for current robotic flight operations and upcoming human spaceflights via balloon.[15][16]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Air Force
Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor device
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 crimson ribbon with two width-8 white stripes at distance 4 from the edges.
Meritorious Service Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Air Medal
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device
Bronze star
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Humanitarian Service Medal
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver oak leaf cluster
Air Force Training Ribbon
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
NASA Exceptional Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
NASA Space Flight Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration document: "Astronaut Bio: Ronald J. Garan (1/2011)". Retrieved July 28, 2011.

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "RONALD J. GARAN, JR. (COLONEL, USAF, RET.) NASA ASTRONAUT" (PDF). NASA. April 2012. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Becker, Joachim & Janssen, Heinz (June 8, 2011). "Astronaut Biography: Ronald Garan". Spacefacts. Retrieved July 30, 2011.
  3. ^ Ron Garan (July 20, 2011). "That's One Small Step For Fragile Oasis..." FRAGILE OASIS. Archived from the original on April 14, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "St. Thérèse's Astronaut Visits Vatican". June 24, 2009. Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  5. ^ Faith in space: Cosmonauts who vie to affirm their devotion
  6. ^ "R/IAmA - Comment by u/RonGaran on "IAmA NASA Astronaut that recently returned to Earth after a 1/2 year in space. I'm brand new to reddit (Like hours ago) AMA"".
  7. ^ "End corruption. Defend the Republic". Represent.Us. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  8. ^ "Ron Garan". Unreasonable Group. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  9. ^ "Apply to fly: Astronaut-led group launches contest to send public to space". collectSPACE. Retrieved September 15, 2014.
  10. ^ NASA (2006). "NASA's Undersea Crew is Heads Above Water". NASA. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
  11. ^ NASA (October 7, 2009). "NASA and its International Partners Assign Space Station Crews".
  12. ^ Kudriavtsev Anatoli (April 4, 2011). "Gagarin spaceship ready for launch". The Voice of Russia. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  13. ^ "Yonkers-raised astronaut Ron Garan back on Earth after space station stint". Associated Press. September 16, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
  14. ^ Ron Garan (February 23, 2016). "Why I left NASA". FragileOasis. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  15. ^ World View Enterprises (February 23, 2016). "Astronaut Ron Garan Joins World View as Chief Pilot". YouTube. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  16. ^ Clash, Jim (February 24, 2016). "Extreme Ballooning: Astronaut Ron Garan Takes Pilot Slot For World View Experience". Magazine/Website. Forbes. Retrieved February 26, 2016.

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