Robert L. Crippen
Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Born September 11, 1937, in Beaumont, Texas
BS in aerospace engineering from University of Texas
About the Man
Crippen received his commission through the Navy's Aviation Officer Program at Pensacola, Florida, which he entered after graduation from the University of Texas. He continued his flight training at Whiting Field, Florida, and went from there to Chase Field in Beeville, Texas, where he received his wings.
From June 1962 to November 1964, he was assigned to Fleet Squadron VA-72--completing 2 1/2 years of duty as an attack pilot aboard the aircraft carrier USS INDEPENDENCE. He later attended the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and upon graduation, remained there as an instructor until his selection in October 1966 to the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory Program.
Crippen was among the second group of aerospace research pilots to be assigned to the MOL program.
He has logged more than 6,500 hour flying time, which includes more than 5,500 hours in jet aircraft.
Crippen became a NASA astronaut in September 1969. He was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Skylab 2, 3, and 4 missions, and served in this same capacity for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission, which was completed successfully in July 1975.
He served as pilot on STS-1 (April 12-14, 1981), and was the spacecraft commander on STS-7 (June 18-24, 1983), STS-41C (April 6-13, 1984) and STS-41G (October 5-13, 1984).
A four flight veteran, Crippen has logged over 565 hours in space, orbited the earth 374 times and traveled over 9.4 million miles.
Positions held include:
- 1986-1989 deputy director, Shuttle Operations, for NASA Headquarters at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, responsible for final Shuttle preparation, mission execution, and return of the orbiter to KSC after landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California
- 1990-1992 served as director, Space Shuttle, at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he presided over the overall Shuttle program requirements and performance, and total program control including budget, schedule, and program content.
- 1992-1995 he managed Kennedy Space Center processing, launch, and recovery of Space Shuttle missions, ending a 21 year NASA career in January 1995 as the Director of the Kennedy Space Center.
He next served as vice president of Training Simulation Systems at Lockheed Martin Information Systems. In December 1996 he became President of the Thiokol Propulsion Group, Brigham City, Utah. This newly established Group was composed of three divisions, Space Operations, Defense and Launch Vehicles, and Science and Engineering. Crippen retired in April 2001 as President of Thiokol Propulsion.
About the Spaceflights
April 12-14, 1981
STS-1 was the first orbital test flight of the Shuttle Columbia, the first true manned spaceship. It was also the first manned vehicle to be flown into orbit without benefit of previous unmanned "orbital" testing; the first to launch with wings using solid rocket boosters.
It was also the first winged reentry vehicle to return to a conventional runway landing, weighing more than 99-tons as it was braked to a stop on the dry lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Mission duration was 54 hours, 20 minutes, 53 1 seconds
June 18-24, 1983
STS-7 was the second flight for the Orbiter Challenger. This was also the first mission with a 5-person crew.
During the 6-day flight the crew deployed satellites for Canada (ANIK C-2) and Indonesia (PALAPA B-1); operated the Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) to perform the first deployment and retrieval exercise with the Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS-01); conducted the first formation flying of the orbiter with a free-flying satellite (SPAS-02); carried and operated the first U.S./German cooperative materials science payload (OSTA-2); and operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES) and the Monodisperse Latex Reactor (MLR) experiments, in addition to activating seven Getaway Specials.
Mission duration was 146 hours, 23 minutes, 59 seconds.
April 6-13, 1984
STS-41C was a 7-day mission during which the crew successfully deployed the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF); retrieved the ailing Solar Maximum Satellite, repaired it on-board the orbiting Challenger, and replaced it in orbit using the robot arm called the Remote Manipulator System (RMS).
Flight tested the Manned Manneuvering Units (MMU's) in two extravehicular activities (EVA's); as well as operating the Cinema 360 and IMAX Camera Systems, and a Bee Hive Honeycomb Structures student experiment.
Mission duration was 167 hours, 40 minutes, 07 seconds.
October 5-13, 1984
STS-41G was the first mission with a 7-person crew. During the 8-day flight the crew deployed the Earth Radiation Budget Satellite, conducted scientific observations of the earth with the OSTA-3 pallet and Large Format Camera, as well as demonstrating potential satellite refueling with an EVA and associated hydrazine transfer.
Mission duration was 197 hours, 23 minutes, 37 seconds and concluded with a landing at Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
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