[John Casper] [NASA Logo]
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058

Biographical Data

NAME: John H. Casper (Colonel, USAF (ret.))
NASA Astronaut

Born July 9, 1943, in Greenville, South Carolina, but considers Gainesville, Georgia, to be his hometown. Married to Beth Taylor Casper. Four children. He enjoys flying general aviation aircraft, running, and listening to classical music. His father, Colonel (Ret.) John Casper Jr., resides in Gainesville, Georgia.

Graduated from Chamblee High School, Chamblee, Georgia, in 1961; received a bachelor of science degree in engineering science from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1966, and a master of science degree in astronautics from Purdue University in 1967. He is a 1986 graduate of the Air Force Air War College.

Member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, the Association of Space Explorers, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and the USAF Academy Association of Graduates.

Awarded two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merit Awards, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals, 6 Air Force Commendation Medals, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Award, the NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership, four NASA Space Flight Medals, and the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement.

Casper received his pilot wings at Reese Air Force Base, Texas, in 1968. After F-100 training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, he flew 229 combat missions with the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing at Phan Rang Air Base, Vietnam. From 1970 to 1974, Casper was assigned to the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, and flew the F-100 and F-4 aircraft. In 1974, Casper graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School and became a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base, California, flying weapons delivery and avionics testing for F-4 and A-7 aircraft. As chief of the F-4 Test Team, he flew initial performance and weapons separation tests for the F-4G Wild Weasel aircraft. From 1976 to 1980, Casper was operations officer and later commander of the 6513th Test Squadron, conducting flight test programs to evaluate and develop tactical aircraft weapons systems. Casper was assigned to Headquarters USAF in the Pentagon in 1980 and was Deputy Chief of the Special Projects Office, where he developed USAF positions on requirements, operational concepts, policy and force structure for tactical and strategic programs. Casper has logged over 7,000 flying hours in 51 different aircraft.

A veteran of four space flights, Casper has logged over 825 hours in space. He was the pilot on STS-36 (1990), and was the spacecraft commander on STS-54 (1993), STS-62 (1994) and STS-77 (1996). Selected by NASA in May 1984, Casper became an astronaut in June 1985. His technical assignments to date include: lead astronaut in improving Shuttle computer software and hardware; Astronaut Office lead for improvements to the nosewheel steering, brakes, tires, and development of a landing drag chute; astronaut team leader for the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) where final testing of the flight software and hardware is conducted; ascent/entry spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) in the Mission Control Center; and Chief of the Operations Development Branch in the Astronaut Office.

STS-36 launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on February 28, 1990, aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis. This mission carried classified Department of Defense payloads and was unique in flying at 62 degrees inclination, the highest inclination flown to date by the U.S. manned space program. After 72 orbits of the Earth, the STS-36 mission concluded with a lakebed landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on March 4, 1990, after traveling 1.87 million miles. Mission duration was 106 hours, 19 minutes, 43 seconds.

STS-54 launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on January 13, 1993, aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. A crew of five successfully accomplished the primary objectives of this six-day mission. A $200 million NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-F) satellite was deployed, joining four others to complete a national communications network supporting Space Shuttle and other low-Earth orbit scientific satellites. A Diffuse X-Ray Spectrometer (DXS), carried in the payload bay, collected over 80,000 seconds of quality X-ray data to enable investigators to answer questions about the origin of X-rays in the Milky Way galaxy. A highly successful extravehicular activity (EVA) resulted in many lessons learned that will benefit the International Space Station assembly. The flight was also the first to shut down and restart a fuel cell in flight, successfully demonstrating another Space Station application. Casper landed Endeavour at the Kennedy Space Center on January 19, 1993, after 96 Earth orbits covering over 2.5 million miles. Mission duration was 143 hours and 38 minutes.

STS-62 (March 4-18, 1994) was a two-week microgravity research mission aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. Primary payloads were the United States Microgravity Payload (USMP-2) and the Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology (OAST-2) payloads. These payloads included experiments to understand the process of semiconductor crystal growth, investigating the process of metal alloys as they solidify, studying materials at their critical point (where they exist as both a liquid and gas), and testing new technology for use on future spacecraft, such as advanced solar arrays, radiators, heat sinks, and radiation shielding. The flight also tested new technology for aligning the Remote Manipulator System arm and for grasping payloads with a new magnetic end effector. Columbia flew at a record low altitude of 195 km (105 nautical miles) to gather data on spacecraft glow and erosion caused by atomic oxygen and nitrogen molecules. Casper landed Columbia at the Kennedy Space Center after 224 Earth orbits and 5.82 million miles.

STS-77 (May 19-29, 1996) was a ten-day mission aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. The crew performed a record number of rendezvous sequences (one with a SPARTAN satellite and three with a deployed Satellite Test Unit) and approximately 21 hours of formation flying in close proximity of the satellites. During the flight the crew also conducted 12 materials processing, fluid physics and biotechnology experiments in a Spacehab Module. STS-77 deployed and retrieved a SPARTAN satellite, which carried the Inflatable Antenna Experiment designed to test the concept of large, inflatable space structures. A small Satellite Test Unit was also deployed to test the concept of self-stabilization by using aerodynamic forces and magnetic damping. Casper brought Endeavour back to Earth at the Kennedy Space Center after 160 Earth orbits and 4.1 million miles. Mission duration was 240 hours and 39 minutes.

Casper presently serves as the Director of Safety, Reliability, and Quality Assurance for the Johnson Space Center.


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