Official NASA Biography - 1997
On his first space mission Blaha was the STS-29 pilot. The five-man crew launched on the Space Shuttle Discovery on March 13, 1989, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base on March 18, 1989. During this very successful mission the crew deployed the East Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, and performed eight scientific/medical experiments.
Blaha also was the pilot on the crew of STS-33 which launched at night from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on November 22, 1989, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. The five-day mission carried Department of Defense payloads and other secondary payloads. After 79 orbits of the Earth, this highly successful mission concluded on November 27, 1989, with a hard surface landing on Runway 4 at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
On STS-43 Blaha commanded a five-person crew aboard the Orbiter Atlantis. The nine-day mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center on August 2, 1991. During the flight crew members deployed the West Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, and conducted 32 physical, material, and life science experiments that supported the development of the Extended Duration Orbiter and Space Station. After 142 orbits of the Earth, this very significant mission concluded with a landing on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center on August 11, 1991.
On STS-58 Blaha commanded a seven-person life science research mission aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, launching from the Kennedy Space Center on October 18, 1993, and landing at Edwards Air Force Base on Runway 22 on November 1, 1993. This record duration fourteen-day Space Shuttle mission has been recognized by NASA management as the most successful and efficient Spacelab flight that NASA has flown. The crew performed neurovestibular, cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary, metabolic, and musculoskeletal medical experiments on themselves and 48 rats, expanding our knowledge of human and animal physiology both on earth and in space flight. In addition, the crew performed 16 engineering tests aboard the Orbiter Columbia and 20 Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project experiments.
Blaha began Russian language training in August 1994 at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, and commenced an intensive training program at the Cosmonaut Training Center, Star City, Russia in January 1995. He launched on STS-79 on September 16, 1996. After docking he transferred to the Mir Space Station. Assigned as a Board Engineer 2, he spent the following 4 months with the Mir 22 Cosmonaut crew conducting material science, fluid science, and life science research. Blaha returned to earth aboard STS-81 on January 22, 1997.
He attended the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1971, and piloted the NF-104 research aircraft to 104,400 feet. Following graduation, he served as an F-104 instructor pilot at the test pilot school, teaching low lift-to-drag approach, zoom, performance, stability/control, and spin flight test techniques.
In 1973, he was assigned as a test pilot working with the Royal Air Force at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, Boscombe Down, United Kingdom. During a 3-year tour, he flew stability/control, performance, spin, and weapons delivery flight tests in the Jaguar, Buccaneer, Hawk, and Jet Provost aircraft.
In 1976 he attended the USAF Air Command and Staff College. After graduation, he was assigned to work for the Assistant Chief of Staff, Studies and Analyses, at Headquarters USAF in the Pentagon. During this tour, he presented F-15 and F-16 study results to Department of Defense, State Department, and congressional staffs.
Birth Place: San Antonio, Texas.
Spaceflights: 5 .
Total time in space: 161.11 days.
Mission Specialists: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics and minimum three years of related experience or an advanced degree. Vision minimum 20/150 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20. Maximum sitting blood pressure of 140/90. Height between 150 and 193 cm..