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Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper
Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper in white space suit.jpg
Status Retired
Born February 7, 1963 (1963-02-07) (age 46)
St. Paul, Minnesota
Other occupation Diver
Rank Captain, USN
Time in space 27d 15h 36m 12s
Selection 1996 NASA Group
Missions STS-115, STS-126
Mission insignia STS-115 patch.png STS-126 insignia.jpg
Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper.jpg

Heidemarie Martha Stefanyshyn-Piper (born on February 7, 1963) is an American Naval officer and a former NASA astronaut.[1] Heide Piper has achieved the rank of captain in the United States Navy. Heidemarie is also a qualified and experienced salvage officer. Her major salvage projects include de-stranding the Exxon Houston off the coast of Barber's Point, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, and developing the plan for the Peruvian Navy salvage of the Peruvian submarine Pacocha. Piper has also received numerous honors and awards, such as the Meritorious Service Medal, two Navy Commendation Medals, two Navy Achievement Medals and many other awards. She has flown on two space shuttle missions, STS-115 and STS-126. During which time she has completed five spacewalks totaling 33 hours and 42 minutes, putting her 25th on the all-time on the list of space walkers by duration.


Early life and education

Stefanyshyn-Piper was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, United States, North America. Of Ukrainian-American heritage, Stefanyshyn-Piper graduated in 1980 from what was then the all-girls Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, and holds Bachelor of Science (1984) and Master of Science (1985) degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT. She is a licensed Amateur radio operator (ham) with Technician License KD5TVR.[2][3]

Military career

Stefanyshyn-Piper received her commission from the Navy ROTC Program at MIT in June 1985.[1] She completed training at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida as a Navy Basic Diving Officer and Salvage Officer.[1] During her Salvage tour, she participated in the de-stranding of the tanker Exxon Houston off the coast of Barber's Point, on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.[1] Stefanyshyn-Piper is currently a Captain in the United States Navy.[1]

NASA career

Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Stefanyshyn-Piper reported to the Johnson Space Center in August, 1996. After two years of training and evaluation, she qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist. Initially assigned to astronaut support duties for launch and landing, she has also served as lead Astronaut Office Representative for Payloads and in the Astronaut Office EVA branch.[1]



Stefanyshyn-Piper flew her first mission on STS-115 (launched September 9, 2006 and returned September 21), as a Mission Specialist and became only the 8th woman to perform a spacewalk (out of 180 total spacewalkers). Stefanyshyn-Piper's two EVAs for a total of 12 hours, 8 minutes made her the second most experienced female spacewalker. She also became the first Minnesotan woman to go into space.[4]

On September 22, 2006, Stefanyshyn-Piper collapsed twice during a welcome-home ceremony with family and friends.[5] She had "period of light-headedness" while speaking during the ceremony at Ellington Field in Houston.[6] A flight surgeon examined Stefanyshyn-Piper and said she had no health issues, but was simply still making the readjustment to Earth's gravity from the weightlessness of space.[5][6]


Piper flew as a Mission Specialist on STS-126 during which she participated in three spacewalks. The mission ended when Space Shuttle Endeavour landed successfully at Edwards Air Force Base on November 30, 2008.

Following Piper's third spacewalk during STS-126, her fifth overall, her total time in EVA became 33 hours, 42 minutes, putting her in twenty-fifth place for total time in EVA.[7]

Lost tool bag during spacewalk

During the first EVA of STS-126 on November 18, 2008 as Piper was preparing to begin work on the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, she noticed a significant amount of grease in her tool bag. "I think we had a grease gun explode in the large bag, because there's grease in the bag," Piper reported to Kimbrough, who was working inside the shuttle to help coordinate the EVA.[8][9] Mission Control managers instructed Piper to clean up the grease using a dry wipe, and while she was doing the cleanup, one of the crew lock bags floated away. "I guess one of my crew lock bags was not transferred and it's loose," Piper told Kimbrough.[8] The bag floated aft and starboard of the station, and did not pose a risk to the station or orbiter. The bag and its contents entered Low Earth Orbit as space debris, where it eventually burned-up as it entered the Earth's atmosphere west of Mexico on August 3, 2009.[10][11] When in orbit, it was visible from the ground using a telescope.[12]

After taking an inventory of the items inside the lost bag, managers on the ground determined that Bowen had all those items in his bag, and the two could share equipment.[8] While it extended the EVA duration slightly, the major objectives were not changed.[8][9] The estimated value of the equipment lost is US$100,000.[13]

During the Mission Status Briefing, lead ISS Flight Director Ginger Kerrick noted that there was no way to know what caused the bag to come loose.[14] "We don't know that this incident occurred because they forgot to tether something. We don't know if perhaps the hook just came loose inside the bag," Kerrick said. "You've got to remember, we are working with humans here and we are prone to human error. We do the best we can, and we learn from our mistakes."[14] Said Stefanyshyn-Piper of the incident, "that definitely was not the high point of the EVA. It was very disheartening to watch it float away."

Retirement from NASA

In July 2009, Stefanyshyn-Piper retired from NASA's astronaut corps to return to her Navy duties.[11]


Stefanyshyn-Piper's father, Michael (Mykhailo) Stefanyshyn, now deceased, was born in Halychyna region of Ukraine, and sent to work in Germany during World War II.[15] After the end of the war, he married a German woman and they both immigrated to the USA.[15] Stefanyshyn-Piper's mother, Adelheid Stefanyshyn, still lives in St. Paul.[1] Stefanyshyn-Piper was raised in Ukranian community, and speaks Ukranian.[15] Stefanyshyn-Piper married Glenn A. Piper, and they have one son, Michael, named after Piper's grandfather.[15] Stefanyshyn-Piper hyphenated her maiden to serve as a reminder of her family roots.[15] She enjoys scuba diving, swimming, running, roller blading, and ice skating.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h NASA. "Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper". NASA. Retrieved 2008-11-21.  
  2. ^ Fred Lloyd (November 21, 2008). "Heidemarie M Stefanyshyn-Piper". QRZ.COM. Retrieved 2008-11-21.  
  3. ^ ARRL (September 11, 2006). "Five Radio Amateurs Now Aboard ISS". American Radio Relay League, Inc. Retrieved 2008-11-21.  
  4. ^ Associated Press (2006). "Astronaut First Minnesota Woman In Space". CBS Broadcasting Inc. Retrieved November 20, 2008.  
  5. ^ a b CBC News (2006). "Atlantis astronaut collapses at ceremony". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved November 20, 2008.  
  6. ^ a b Fredricka Whitfield (2008). "Astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper Collapses Twice During Welcome Home Ceremony". CNN. Retrieved November 20, 2008.  
  7. ^ William Harwood for CBS News (2008). "Spacewalk No. 3 ends". Retrieved November 22, 2008.  
  8. ^ a b c d William Harwood for CBS News (2008). "Bag of tools escapes from spacewalker and floats away". Retrieved November 18, 2008.  
  9. ^ a b NASA RSS (2008). "Astronauts Resume Spacewalk After Tools Lost". NASA. Retrieved November 18, 2008.  
  10. ^ Tariq Malik, Managing Editor, "Tool Bag Lost In Space Meets Fiery End" August 3, 2009
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ p2pnet news (2008). "Kevin Fetter videos astronaut’s lost tool bag". People to People. Retrieved December 17, 2008.  
  13. ^ (November 21, 2008). "Nothing lost in space - this time". Retrieved November 21, 2008.  
  14. ^ a b Associated Press (2008). "Astronaut Who Lost Tool Bag Admits Mistake". WFTV. Retrieved November 20, 2008.  
  15. ^ a b c d e Volodymyr Karpiy (January 2, 2007). "During her visit to the land of her ancestors, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper is surprised and happy with the way she was met by her countrymen". Victor Pinchuk Foundation. Retrieved 2009-03-23.  

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