Encyclopedia Astronautica

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Peterson, Dr Donald Herod 'Don' (1933-) American test pilot mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-6.

NASA Official Biography

NAME: Donald H. Peterson (Colonel, USAF, ret.)
NASA Astronaut (former)

PERSONAL DATA: Born in Winona, Mississippi, on October 22, 1933. Married. Three children and four grandchildren.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Winona City High School, Winona, Mississippi; received a bachelor of science degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1955, and a master's degree in Nuclear Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in 1962.

SPECIAL HONORS: Awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the JSC Group Achievement Award (1972).

EXPERIENCE: Peterson graduated from West Point in 1955. His assignments included four years as a flight instructor and military training officer with the Air Training Command, three years as a nuclear systems analyst with the Air Force Systems Command, and one year as a fighter pilot with Tactical Air Command, including 3 months combat weapons training.

He is a graduate of the Aerospace Research Pilot School. Edwards Air Force Base, California, and was one of the third group of astronauts assigned to the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory Program.

He has logged over 5,300 hours flying time--including more than 5,000 hours in jet aircraft.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Peterson became a NASA astronaut in September 1969. He served on the astronaut support crew for Apollo 16.

Peterson retired from the United States Air Force with the rank of colonel after having completed more than 24 years of active service, but continued his assignment as a NASA astronaut in a civilian capacity. His areas of responsibility have included engineering support, man/machine interface, and safety assessment.

Peterson was a mission specialist on STS-6, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 4, 1983. He was accompanied by Mr. Paul J. Weitz (spacecraft commander), Col. Karol J. Bobko (pilot), and Dr. F. Story Musgrave (mission specialist). During this maiden voyage of the spacecraft Challenger, the STS-6 crew conducted numerous experiments in materials processing, recorded lightning activities, deployed the first Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-A), and activated three Getaway Specials. Peterson and Musgrave conducted an extravehicular activity (EVA), commonly called a "spacewalk," to test the new suit, the Shuttle airlock, and new tools and techniques for construction and repair outside a spacecraft. After 120 hours of orbital operations STS-6 landed on the concrete runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on April 9, 1983. With the completion of this flight Don Peterson has logged 4 hours 15 minutes in extravehicular activity, and a total of 120 hours in space.

POST-NASA EXPERIENCE: Peterson resigned from the Astronaut Office in November 1984, and since that time has worked as a consultant in the area of manned aerospace operations.

MAY 1994

Birth Place: Winona, Mississippi.
Status: Inactive.

Born: 1933.10.22.
Spaceflights: 1 .
Total time in space: 5.02 days.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • NASA Group 7 - 1969 NASA was forced to take on seven pilot-astronauts from the cancelled USAF MOL military space station program. All of these men would have to wait to the shuttle era for space missions, but they all would eventually fly. More...

Associated Flights
  • Apollo 19 Crew: Haise, Pogue, Carr. Apollo 19 was originally planned to land in the Hyginus Rille region, which would allow study of lunar linear rilles and craters.The original July 1972 landing date was extended when NASA cancelled the Apollo 20 mission in January 1970.Support crew: England, Hartsfield, Peterson. More...
  • STS-6 Crew: Bobko, Musgrave, Peterson, Weitz. First flight of space shuttle Challenger. First space walk of Shuttle program Manned four crew. Deployed Tracking and Data Relay Satellite. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • STS The Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle) was conceived originally as a completely reusable system that would provide cheap, routine access to space and replace all American and civilian military launch vehicles. Crippled by technological overreach, political compromise, and budget limitations, it instead ended up costing more than the expendable rockets it was to have replaced. STS sucked the money out of all other NASA projects for half a century. The military abandoned its use after the Challenger shuttle explosion in the 1980's. More...

  • NASA Astronaut Biographies, Johnson Space Center, NASA, 1995-present. Web Address when accessed: here.

Peterson Chronology

1973 December - .
1983 April 4 - . 18:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-6.
  • STS-6 - . Call Sign: Challenger. Crew: Bobko; Musgrave; Peterson; Weitz. Payload: Challenger F01 / TDRS 1 [IUS]. Mass: 21,305 kg (46,969 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Bobko; Musgrave; Peterson; Weitz. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-6. Spacecraft: Challenger. Duration: 5.02 days. Decay Date: 1983-04-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 13968 . COSPAR: 1983-026A. Apogee: 295 km (183 mi). Perigee: 288 km (178 mi). Inclination: 28.5000 deg. Period: 90.40 min. Manned four crew. First flight of space shuttle Challenger; deployed TDRSS. Payloads: Deployment of Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-A with Inertial Upper Stage (lUS)-2, Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES), Monodisperse Latex Reactor (MLR), Night/Day Optical Survey of Lightning (NOSL) experiment, three getaway specials (GAS).

1983 April 8 - . 21:05 GMT - .
  • EVA STS-6-1 - . Crew: Musgrave; Peterson. EVA Type: Extra-Vehicular Activity. EVA Duration: 0.17 days. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Musgrave; Peterson. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-6. Spacecraft: Challenger. Summary: Tested EMU Manoeuvring Unit. Tested EVA emergency procedures..

1983 April 9 - .
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