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Tracy Caldwell Dyson

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Tracy Caldwell Dyson
Caldwell Dyson in April 2007
Tracy Ellen Caldwell

(1969-08-14) August 14, 1969 (age 54)
EducationCalifornia State University, Fullerton (BS)
University of California, Davis (MS, PhD)
Space career
NASA astronaut
Time in space
270 days, 8 hours, 42 minutes [refresh]
(currently in space)
SelectionNASA Group 17 (1998)
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
22 hours, 49 minutes
Soyuz TMA-18 (Expedition 23/24)
Soyuz MS-25 (Expedition 70/71)
Mission insignia
Scientific career
FieldsPhysical chemistry
ThesisA Mechanistic and Kinetic Study of Heterocycle and Cyclization Chemistry on Pd(111) Using Laser-Induced Thermal Desorption with Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometry (1997)

Tracy Caldwell Dyson (born Tracy Ellen Caldwell; August 14, 1969) is an American chemist and NASA astronaut. She was a mission specialist on Space Shuttle Endeavour flight STS-118 in August 2007 and part of the Expedition 23 and Expedition 24 crew on the International Space Station from April 2010 to September 2010. She has completed three spacewalks, logging more than 22 hours of extravehicular activity.[1][2] She is currently in space since March 23, 2024 for a third time, for a six-month mission onboard the ISS.

Early life and education[edit]

Caldwell Dyson was born in Arcadia, California.[1] She is the younger of two girls. In the early 1980s, she and her family moved to Beaumont, California, where her father worked as an electrician and where she attended junior high school. Her recreational interests included running, weight training, hiking, softball, basketball, and auto repair and maintenance.

She attended California State University, Fullerton, where she competed on the CSUF Titans' track and field team as a sprinter and long jumper.[3] She is married to U.S. Naval aviator George Dyson.[2] She believes in God,[4] and was raised as a Methodist. [citation needed].

As an undergraduate researcher at California State University, Fullerton, she designed, constructed and implemented electronics and hardware associated with a laser-ionization, time-of-flight mass spectrometer for studying atmospherically relevant gas-phase chemistry.[5][6] She also worked as a lab assistant in the university's research and instructional safety office, where she performed environmental monitoring of laboratories using hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials and calibrated survey instruments and helped process chemical and radioactive waste. During college and after it, she also worked as an electrician and inside wireman for her father's electrical contracting company, where she performed commercial and light industrial construction.[1]

At the University of California, Davis, Caldwell Dyson taught general chemistry laboratory and began her graduate research. Her dissertation work focused on investigating molecular-level surface reactivity and kinetics of metal surfaces using electron spectroscopy, laser desorption, and Fourier transform mass spectrometry techniques.[7] She also designed and built peripheral components for a variable temperature, ultra-high vacuum scanning tunneling microscopy system.[1]

In 1997, Caldwell Dyson received the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Science to study atmospheric chemistry at the University of California, Irvine.[8] There, she investigated reactivity and kinetics of atmospherically relevant systems using atmospheric pressure ionization mass spectrometry, Fourier transform infrared and ultraviolet absorption spectroscopies. In addition, she developed methods of chemical ionization for spectral interpretation of trace compounds. Caldwell Dyson has published and presented her work in numerous papers at technical conferences and in scientific journals.[1]



Caldwell Dyson during celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing in 2009

In June 1998, Caldwell Dyson was hired by NASA, and began NASA training two months later, in August 1998. Her astronaut candidate training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) systems, physiological training, ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques. Completion of this training and evaluation qualified her for flight assignment as a mission specialist.

In 1999, Caldwell Dyson was assigned to the Astronaut Office ISS Operations Branch as a Russian Crusader, participating in the testing and integration of Russian hardware and software products developed for ISS. In 2000, she was assigned prime crew support astronaut for the ISS Expedition 5 crew, serving as their representative on technical and operational issues throughout the training and on-orbit phase of their mission. During ISS Expeditions 4 through 6, Caldwell Dyson served as an ISS spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) inside Mission Control. In 2003, she made a transition to the Astronaut Shuttle Operations Branch and was assigned to flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory and worked supporting launch and landing operations at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Caldwell Dyson also served as Lead CAPCOM for Expedition 11.

Between her second and third flights, Caldwell Dyson continued to work inside Houston’s Mission Control Center as CAPCOM for both space shuttle and space station operations, serving as the lead CAPCOM for various ISS missions, including the lead and development of the CAPCOM cadre for Boeing Starliner Mission Operations team. She was also the ground IV for US EVA 32, performed by Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren.

Caldwell Dyson initiated and led several projects to improve training and operations aboard the ISS, most notably developing the EVA Qualification training flow (EVQ) for astronaut candidates.

As Tracy Dyson, she is the host of a series on NASA TV called StationLife, which focuses on facets of life aboard the International Space Station.[9]

On March 21, 2017, Dyson stood behind President Trump as he signed a bill for NASA to send humans to Mars in the 2030s and receive $19.5 billion in 2018 funding. Dyson and fellow NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy presented Trump with an official flight jacket during the ceremony.[10]


Caldwell Dyson was assigned to STS-118 on May 17, 2006. It was announced that she would serve as mission specialist 1 on the first flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour after the Columbia disaster.

On August 8, 2007, Caldwell Dyson lifted off for the first time on the 119th Space Shuttle flight, the 22nd flight to the station, and the 20th flight for Endeavour. During the mission, she successfully added another truss segment, a new gyroscope and external spare parts platform to the International Space Station. A new system that enables docked shuttles to draw electrical power from the station to extend visits to the outpost was activated successfully. A total of four spacewalks (EVAs) were performed by three crew members. Endeavour carried some 5,000 pounds of equipment and supplies to the station and returned to Earth with some 4,000 pounds of hardware and no-longer-needed equipment. Traveling 5.3 million miles in space, the STS-118 mission was completed in 12 days, 17 hours, 55 minutes and 34 seconds. On day 7 of the flight of STS-118, Caldwell-Dyson celebrated her 38th birthday in space.

Expedition 23/24[edit]

The three astronauts of STS-131 and Tracy Caldwell (bottom left) on ISS Expedition 23, the first time four women were in space at the same time[11]

Caldwell Dyson was assigned for her second space flight on November 21, 2008. Her second space mission consisted of a six-month mission to the International Space Station.[12]

After a successful liftoff on April 2, 2010, from the Baikonur spaceport on board the Soyuz TMA-18 as Board Engineer 2 with Soyuz Commander Aleksandr Skvortsov and Board Engineer 1 Mikhail Korniyenko and following a two-day rendezvous and docking maneuver with the ISS, she joined Expedition 23 as a flight engineer and transferred on June 2, 2010, to Expedition 24 again as a flight engineer after the departure of the Soyuz TMA-17.

During the first half of her flight, Caldwell-Dyson and the Expedition 23 crew were joined by the STS-131 crew from April 7 to April 17. This period was the first and only time that four women were together on board the same spacecraft: Caldwell-Dyson, NASA astronauts Stephanie Wilson and Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, and JAXA astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. From May 16 to May 23, the second and last Space Shuttle visiting mission for Caldwell-Dyson's flight, STS-132, joined the Expedition 23 crew for the installation of the Russian-built module Rassvet.

The second half of Caldwell-Dyson's mission was marked by the failure of a coolant pump at the beginning of August. Caldwell Dyson performed her first spacewalk on August 7, 2010, with NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock. The task for this first of three contingency EVAs was to prepare the malfunctioning coolant pump for replacement on the next spacewalks; this took place on August 11, 2010, and August 16, 2010. She performed all of this contingency EVA.[13]

After 176 days, 1 hour, 18 minutes and 38 seconds in space, Caldwell-Dyson landed in Kazakhstan on September 25, 2010.[14] During this spaceflight, she completed three spacewalks, logging 22 hrs and 49 minutes of EVA work to replace a malfunctioning coolant pump.[13]

Tracy Caldwell Dyson during live coverage of a SLS Green Run Test

Expedition 70/71[edit]

Caldwell-Dyson returned to flight training as a backup crew member for the Soyuz MS-24.[15] She backed up her NASA astronaut colleague Loral O'Hara.[15] She was officially assigned to the Soyuz MS-25 in 2023.[15]

Her first attempt to launch on the Soyuz MS-25 mission, on March 21, 2024, was aborted with 20 seconds left before lift-off.[16] The scrub occurred because of a low voltage reading in the Soyuz rocket electrical system.[16] She launched on March 23, 2024 with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and Belarusian cosmonaut Marina Vasilevskaya.[17] After a two-day rendezvous profile, the Soyuz crew docked with International Space Station's Prichal module on March 25, 2024. The first weeks of her mission dealt with the SpaceX CRS-30 mission, as well as, viewing the total eclipse above North America on April 8, 2024.[18] NASA plans for Dyson to spend six months on the station, and return no-earlier-than September 2024 with Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub on the Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft.[17]

Other activities[edit]

Caldwell Dyson observing Earth from the Cupola module of the International Space Station

Caldwell Dyson is a private pilot. She is conversational in American Sign Language and Russian.[5][19]

She is also the lead vocalist for the all-astronaut band Max Q.[20]

In 2011, Caldwell Dyson served as the guest judge on a space-themed episode of the Food Network show Cupcake Wars.[21] She appeared on Episode 3 of MasterChef Junior Season 4.[22]

Caldwell Dyson advised Jessica Chastain when the actress was preparing to appear as an astronaut and mission commander in the 2015 movie The Martian. Chastain said she was very inspired by Caldwell Dyson.[23]

Caldwell Dyson is a member of Sigma Xi Research Society and the American Chemical Society.[24]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Honorary Doctorate, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) (May 2008)[5]
  • NASA Performance Award (2002 & 2001)
  • NASA Go the Extra Mile (GEM) Award (2001)
  • NASA Superior Accomplishment Award (2000)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award – Russian Crusader Team (2000)
  • Camille and Henry Dreyfus Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Science (1997)[8]
  • Outstanding Doctoral Student Award in Chemistry from the University of California, Davis (1997)
  • American Vacuum Society – HWhetten Award (1996)
  • American Vacuum Society Graduate Research Award (1996)
  • Pro Femina Research Consortium Graduate Research Award (1996)
  • Pro Femina Research Consortium Graduate Award for Scientific Travel (1996)
  • University of California, Davis Graduate Research Award (1996)
  • University of California, Davis Graduate Student Award for Scientific Travel (1994)
  • Patricia Roberts Harris Graduate Fellowship in Chemistry (1993–1997)
  • Lyle Wallace Award for Service to the Department of Chemistry, California State University Fullerton (1993)
  • National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Award (1992)
  • Council of Building & Construction Trades Scholarship (1991 and 1992)
  • Big West Scholar Athlete (1989–1991)[8][3]

See also[edit]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  1. ^ a b c d e "Tracy Caldwell Dyson Biographical Data" (PDF). March 2016. NASA. Retrieved July 6, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Wesson, Gail. "BEAUMONT: Astronaut talks about her space adventure, return". October 18, 2010. The Press Enterprise. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Romero, Oscar (April 7, 2010). "CSUF Alumna travels beyond the globe for the second time". Daily Titan. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  4. ^ NASA Preflight Interview of Tracy Caldwell Dyson, March 23, 2010. Dyson says of her education and early career: "but I think God planted enough people in my life that said, you need to just follow your heart, you need to do what interests you." URL: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition23/dyson_interview.html.
  5. ^ a b c "Impact of the CSU - Alumni". www2.calstate.edu. Fullerton: California State University. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  6. ^ Seipel, Brooke E. (January 28, 2016). "The Challenger disaster, 30 years later: Mission's astronauts still inspire". Orange County Register. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  7. ^ Caldwell, Tracy Ellen (1997). A Mechanistic and Kinetic Study of Heterocycle and Cyclization Chemistry on Pd(111) Using Laser-induced Thermal Desorption with Fourier Transform Mass Spectrometry (PhD thesis). University of California, Davis. OCLC 1014023765. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Reed, Dave (2004). "The Sky's No Limit". TITAN Magazine. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  9. ^ "Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson hosts NASA show". Atmospheric Integrated Research at University of California, Irvine. January 19, 2015. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  10. ^ President Trump Signs NASA Authorization Bill, March 21, 2017, retrieved March 21, 2017
  11. ^ "Four Women will Fly in Space for the First Time in the History". Russian Federal Space Agency. April 3, 2010. Archived from the original on April 8, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
  12. ^ "ISS-20 - ISS-26 crews assignment". NASA. November 21, 2008.
  13. ^ a b "Caldwell-Dyson EVA Spacefacts".
  14. ^ "Soyuz TMA-18 Spacefacts".
  15. ^ a b c Foust, Jeff (September 21, 2023). "New ISS crew arrives on Soyuz". SpaceNews. Alexandria, Virginia: Pocket Ventures, LLC. ISSN 1046-6940. Retrieved June 10, 2024.
  16. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (March 21, 2024). "Cargo Dragon launches to space station hours after Soyuz scrub". SpaceNews. Alexandria, Virginia: Pocket Ventures, LLC. ISSN 1046-6940. Retrieved June 10, 2024.
  17. ^ a b SFN Staff (March 23, 2024). "Russia Launches Crew of Three Including U.S. Astronaut to Space Station". SpaceFlight Now. Archived from the original on April 25, 2024. Retrieved June 10, 2024.
  18. ^ Pearlman, Robert (April 9, 2024). "Astronauts' photos capture April 8 solar eclipse from Earth orbit". collectSpace. Archived from the original on April 16, 2024. Retrieved June 10, 2024.
  19. ^ "Astronaut Biography: Tracy E. Caldwell". Space.com. Retrieved January 14, 2017.
  20. ^ Nemiroff, R.; Bonnell, J., eds. (November 15, 2010). "Home from Above". Astronomy Picture of the Day. NASA. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  21. ^ "Cupcake Wars Recap: The Final Frontier - FN Dish – Food Network Blog". June 30, 2011.
  22. ^ Viralvideoz007 (January 1, 2016). "MasterChef Junior Season 4 Episode 3 - Hashtag Best Day Ever [HDTV]". Dailymotion. Retrieved December 3, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ "The Martian - Jessica Chastain & Tracy Dyson Junket Interview".
  24. ^ "Member Directory". www.sigmaxi.org. Sigma Xi. Retrieved May 24, 2020.

External links[edit]