Michael L. Coats

Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Born on January 16, 1946, in Sacramento, CA
BS from US Naval Academy
MS in administration of science and technology from George Washington University
MS in aeronautical engineering from U.S. Naval Postgraduate School

About the Man

Coats graduated from Annapolis in 1968 and was designated a Naval Aviator in September 1969.

After training as an A-7E pilot, he was assigned to Attack Squadron 192 (VA-192) from August 1970 to September 1972 aboard the USS KITTYHAWK and, during this time, flew 315 combat missions in Southeast Asia. He served as a flight instructor with the A-7E Readiness Training Squadron (VA-122) at Naval Air Station, Lemoore, California, from September 1972 to December 1973 and was then selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland.

Following test pilot training in 1974, he was project officer and test pilot for the A-7 and A-4 aircraft at the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate.

He served as a flight instructor at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School from April 1976 until May 1977.

He then attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California, from June 1977 until his selection for the astronaut candidate program.

He has logged over 5,000 hours flying time in 28 different types of aircraft, and over 400 carrier landings.

Selected as an astronaut candidate in January 1978, Coats became a NASA Astronaut in August 1979. A member of the STS-4 astronaut support crew, Coasts was capsule communicator for STS-4 and STS-5.

From May 1989 to March 1990, he served as Acting Chief of the Astronaut Office.

He was the pilot on STS 41-D (Aug. 30 to Sep. 5, 1984). In February 1985, he was selected as spacecraft commander on STS 61-H, which was canceled after the Challenger accident.

He was the spacecraft commander on STS-29 (March 13-18, 1989) and STS-39 (Apr. 28 to May 6, 1991). A veteran of three space flights, Coats has logged over 463 hours in space.

Coats retired from the U.S. Navy and the Astronaut Office in August, 1991 and joined the corporate arena. From 1991-1996 he was Vice President of Avionics and Communications Operations for Loral Space Information Systems.

From 1996-1998 he was Vice President of Civil Space Programs for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space in Sunnyvale, California. From 1998-2005 he was Vice President of Advanced Space Transportation for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Denver, Colorado. Mike Coats returned to NASA in November 2005 to serve as Director, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

About the Space Flights

STS 41-D

August 30 - September 5, 1984

STS 41-D launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on August 30, 1984. This was the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery.

During this six day mission the crew successfully activated the OAST-1 solar cell wing experiment, deployed three satellites (SBS-D, SYNCOM IV-2, and TELSTAR 3C), operated the CFES-III experiment, the student crystal growth experiment, and photography experiments using the IMAX motion picture camera.

The crew earned the name "Icebusters" for successfully removing hazardous ice particles from the Orbiter using the Remote Manipulator System.

STS 41-D completed 96 orbits of the earth before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on September 5, 1984.


March 13-18, 1989

STS-29 Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on March 13, 1989.

During this highly successful five day mission, the crew deployed a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, and performed numerous secondary experiments, including a Space Station "heat pipe" radiator experiment, two student experiments, a protein crystal growth experiment, and a chromosome and plant cell division experiment.

In addition, the crew took over 3,000 photographs of the earth using several types of cameras, including the IMAX 70 mm movie camera. Mission duration was 80 orbits and concluded with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on March 18, 1989.


April 28 to May 6, 1991

STS-39, an unclassified eight-day Department of Defense mission, launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on April 28, 1991.

The seven man crew worked around-the-clock in two-shift operations during which they deployed, operated and retrieved the SPAS-II spacecraft, in addition to conducting various science experiments including research of both natural and induced phenomena in the Earth's atmosphere.

After completing the 134 orbits of the Earth, Discovery and her crew landed at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on May 6, 1991.

Coats' cumulative hours of space flight are more than 463.

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