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Robert Laurel Crippen
Robert Crippen.jpg
USAF/NASA Astronaut
Status Retired
Born September 11, 1937 (1937-09-11) (age 72)
Beaumont, Texas
Other occupation Test Pilot
Rank Captain, United States Navy
Time in space 23d 13h 46m
Selection 1966 USAF MOL Group, 1969 NASA Group 7
Missions STS-1, STS-7, STS-41-C, STS-41-G
Mission insignia Sts-1-patch.png Sts-7-patch.png STS-41-C patch.png STS-41-G patch.png
Sign of Crippen Elementary School, named after Robert Crippen

Robert Laurel Crippen (born September 11, 1937 in Beaumont, Texas) is an engineer, retired United States Navy Captain and a former NASA astronaut. He flew on four Space Shuttle missions, including three as commander.[1] Crippen is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

He married Pandora Lee Puckett of Miami, Florida, and they have three daughters.


Education and training

After graduating from New Caney High School in New Caney, Texas, Crippen received a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1960.[1] He was selected as a member of the Texas Alpha chapter of Sigma Gamma Tau.


Crippen was commissioned through the United States Navy's Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) Program. As a Navy pilot from June 1962 to November 1964, he made multiple deployments aboard the aircraft carrier USS Independence, flying the A-4 Skyhawk in Attack Squadron 72 (VA-72). He later attended the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Upon graduation he remained at Edwards as an instructor until his selection for the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) Program in October 1966.

He became a NASA astronaut in September 1969 and was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Skylab 2, Skylab 3, and Skylab 4 missions and for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission. He was the pilot of the first orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle program (STS-1, April 12–14, 1981) and was the commander of three additional shuttle flights: STS-7, June 18–24, 1983; STS-41C, April 6–13, 1984; and STS-41G, October 6–13, 1984. In addition to participating in the first Shuttle flight, he also presided over the first five-person crew (STS-7, which had the first American woman in space), the first satellite repair operation (STS-41-C, which repaired the Solar Maximum Mission satellite), and the first seven-person crew (STS-41-G). He was named commander of the STS-62A mission which would have launched from the new SLC-6 facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base. That mission was cancelled after the Challenger Disaster and SLC-6 was closed when the Air Force went back to launching satellites on the Titan III and Titan IV rockets.

Crippen retired from the U.S. Navy and subsequently served as the director of NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center from January 1992 to January 1995. During his tenure, the center processed, safely launched, and recovered 22 Space Shuttle missions. He provided leadership for over thirteen thousand civil service and contractor personnel. This included oversight of multiple contracts supporting center operations for both manned and unmanned spaceflight. He also implemented cost savings of greater than 25% by establishing and developing new quality management techniques while ensuring the highest safety standards in an extremely hazardous environment.

From January 1990 to January 1992 he served as Director, Space Shuttle, at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. In this headquarters post he was responsible for the overall Shuttle program requirements, performance, and total program control, including budget, schedule and program content. He was stationed at KSC from July 1987 to December 1989, serving as Deputy Director, Shuttle Operations for NASA Headquarters. He was responsible for final Shuttle preparation, mission execution and return of the orbiter to KSC following landings at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Crippen is a former president of Thiokol Propulsion where he served from December, 1996 to April, 2001. Thiokol produces the Space Shuttle Reusable Solid Rocket Motors and other defense and commercial solid rocket motors.

Prior to joining Thiokol, he served as a Vice President with Lockheed Martin Information Systems in Orlando, Florida from April 1995 to November 1996.

Awards and honors

His accomplishments have earned him many notable awards: the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1972; five awards in 1981, including the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Award, The American Astronautical Society of Flight Achievement Award, The National Geographic Society's Gardiner Greene Hubbard Medal, and induction into the Aviation Hall of Fame. In 1982 he won the Federal Aviation Administration's Award for Distinguished Service, the Goddard Memorial Trophy and the Harmon Trophy. In 1984 he received the U.S. Navy Distinguished Flying Cross and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. He also received NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal in 1988 and three NASA Distinguished Service Medals in 1985, 1988, and 1993. On April 6, 2006, he received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, the highest award for spaceflight achievement. He is also a fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Astronautical Society and Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He served as President of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1999–2000.


External links



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