Encyclopedia Astronautica
Williams, Donald

Williams Donald
Credit: www.spacefacts.de - www.spacefacts.de
STS-34 Commander Williams looks away from forward flight deck controls
Credit: NASA
Williams, Donald Edward (1942-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-51-D, STS-34.

Official NASA Biography

NAME: Donald E. Williams (Captain, USN)

NASA Astronaut

BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Born February 13, 1942, in Lafayette, Indiana. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Williams, reside in Houston, Texas.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Brown hair; brown eyes; height: 5 feet 11 inches; weight: 155 pounds.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Otterbein High School, Otterbein, Indiana, in 1960; received a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 1964.

MARITAL STATUS: Married to the former Linda Jo Grubaugh of Sturgis, Michigan. Her mother, Mrs. Herbert E. Grubaugh, resides in Howe, Indiana.

CHILDREN: Jonathan Edward, September 17, 1974; Barbara Jane, July 10, 1976.

RECREATIONAL INTERESTS: He enjoys all sports activities, and his interests also include running, and photography.

ORGANIZATIONS: Member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

SPECIAL HONORS: Awarded 31 Air Medals, 2 Navy Commendation Medals with Combat V, 2 Navy Unit Commendations, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, the National Defense Medal, an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the NASA Space Flight Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal (with 4 stars), a Vietnamese Gallantry Cross (with gold star), and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

EXPERIENCE: Williams received his commission through the NROTC program at Purdue University. He completed flight training at Pensacola, Florida; Meridian, Mississippi; and Kingsville, Texas, receiving his wings in May 1966.

After A-4 training, he made two Vietnam deployments aboard the USS ENTERPRISE with Attack Squadron 113. He served as a flight instructor in Attack Squadron 125 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, for 2 years and transitioned to A-7 aircraft. He made two additional Vietnam deployments aboard the USS ENTERPRISE with CVW-14 staff and Attack Squadron 97. Williams completed a total of 330 combat missions.

In 1973, Williams attended the Armed Forces Staff College. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, in June 1974, and was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center's Carrier Suitability Branch of Flight Test Division. From August 1976 to June 1977, following reorganization of the Naval Air Test Center, he was head of the Carrier Systems Branch, Strike Aircraft Test Directorate. He reported next for A-7 refresher training and was assigned to Attack Squadron 94 when selected by NASA.

He has logged more than 6,000 hours flying time, which includes 5,700 hours in jets and 745 carrier landings.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Selected by NASA in January 1978, Williams became an astronaut in August 1979, qualified for assignment as a pilot on future Space Shuttle flight crews. Since then he has had various support assignments, including working at the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory as a test pilot, and at the Kennedy Space Center participating in Orbiter test, checkout, launch, and landing operations. From September 1982 through July 1983, he was assigned as the Deputy Manager, Operations Integration, National Space Transportation System Program Office at the Johnson Space Center.

Williams was pilot for STS-51D, the fourth flight of Discovery and the sixteenth Shuttle mission. Launch was from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 12, 1985. The crew deployed ANIK-C for Telesat of Canada, and Syncom IV-3 for the U.S. Navy. A malfunction in the Syncom spacecraft resulted in the first unscheduled EVA, rendezvous and proximity operations for the Space Shuttle in an attempt to activate the satellite. Additionally the 51D crew conducted several medical experiments, two student experiments, activated two Getaway Specials and filmed experiments with toys in space. After 168 hours of orbital operations, and 109 orbits of the earth, Discovery landed on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center on April 19, 1985.

From July 1985 through August 1986, Williams was the Deputy Chief of the Aircraft Operations Division at the Johnson Space Center. Williams also served as Chief of the Mission Support Branch within the Astronaut Office.

On his second space flight, Williams commanded STS-34. Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on October 18, 1989, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on October 23, 1989. During the mission the crew successfully deployed the Galileo spacecraft, starting its journey to explore Jupiter, operated the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Instrument (SSBUV) to map atmospheric ozone, and performed numerous secondary experiments involving radiation measurements, polymer morphology, lightning research, microgravity effects on plants, and a student experiment on ice crystal growth in space. Mission duration was 79 orbits of the earth, and logged Captain Williams an additional 119 hours and 41 minutes in space.


Birth Place: Lafayette, Indiana.
Status: Inactive.

Born: 1942.02.13.
Spaceflights: 2 .
Total time in space: 11.98 days.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Astronaut Category of persons, applied to those trained for spaceflight outside of Russia and China. More...
  • NASA Group 8 - 1978 Requirement: pilot, engineer, and scientist astronauts for space shuttle flights. Recruit women and minorities to introduce diversity into the astronaut corps. Nickname: TFNG - Thirty-Five New Guys, also an obscene military phrase. More...

Associated Flights
  • STS-41-F Crew: Bobko, Williams Donald, Seddon, Griggs, Hoffman. Canceled after the STS-10 launch abort required reshuffling of the shuttle schedule. Planned shuttle mission for deployment of commercial communications satellites. The STS-41F payload was added to STS-41D.Officially "cancelled due to payload delays". More...
  • STS-51-E Crew: Bobko, Williams Donald, Seddon, Griggs, Hoffman, Baudry, Garn. Planned TDRS/IUS deployment shuttle mission. Cancelled due to IUS failure. More...
  • STS-51-D Crew: Bobko, Garn, Griggs, Hoffman, Seddon, Walker, Williams Donald. First politician in space. Deployed Telesat-I (successful) and Syncom IV-3 (motor failed). Inboard right-side brake locked on landing, resulting in severe damage. Senator aboard resented, and had one of the worst cases of space sickness ever recorded. More...
  • STS-61-I Crew: Williams Donald, Smith, Dunbar, Carter, Bagian, Bhat. Planned shuttle LDEF (Long Duration Exposure Facility) recovery mission. Cancelled after Challenger disaster. Backup crew: Nair. More...
  • STS-34 Crew: Baker, Chang-Diaz, Lucid, McCulley, Williams Donald. Manned five crew. Deployed Galileo Jupiter probe. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USN American agency overseeing development of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. USN Joint Task Force 7, 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.

Williams, Donald Chronology

1978 January 16 - .
  • NASA Astronaut Training Group 8 selected. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Bluford; Brandenstein; Buchli; Coats; Covey; Creighton; Fabian; Fisher; Gardner; Gibson; Gregory; Griggs; Hart; Hauck; Hawley; Hoffman; Lucid; McBride; McNair; Mullane; Nagel; Nelson; Onizuka; Resnik; Ride; Scobee; Seddon; Shaw; Shriver; Stewart; Sullivan. The group was selected to provide pilot, engineer, and scientist astronauts for space shuttle flights. Recruit women and minorities to introduce diversity into the astronaut corps. Qualifications: Pilots: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. Advanced degree desirable. At least 1,000 flight-hours of pilot-in-command time. Flight test experience desirable. Excellent health. Vision minimum 20/50 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20 vision; maximum sitting blood pressure 140/90. Height between 163 and 193 cm.

    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.. 8,079 applicants, of which half met the basic qualifications. 208 invited for physical tests and interviews. Of the 35 selected, six were women, three were male African-Americans, and one was a male Asian-American.

1984 August - .
1985 March - .
1985 April 12 - . 13:59 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-23/51-D.
  • STS-51-D - . Call Sign: Discovery. Crew: Bobko; Garn; Griggs; Hoffman; Seddon; Walker; Williams, Donald. Payload: Discovery F04 / Anik C1[PAM-D] / Syncom-4 3 /Orbus. Mass: 16,249 kg (35,822 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Bobko; Garn; Griggs; Hoffman; Seddon; Walker; Williams, Donald. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-51-D. Spacecraft: Discovery. Duration: 7.00 days. Decay Date: 1985-04-19 . USAF Sat Cat: 15641 . COSPAR: 1985-028A. Apogee: 535 km (332 mi). Perigee: 445 km (276 mi). Inclination: 28.5000 deg. Period: 94.40 min. Manned seven crew. Payloads: Telesat (Canada communications satellite)-I with Payload Assist Module (PAM)-D deployment, Syncom IV-3 communications satellite deploy-ment with its unique stage (unique stage failed to ignite), Continuous Flow Electrophoresis (CFES), Phase Partitioning Experiment (PPE), student experiments, two getaway specials (GAS) Informal science studies (Toys in Space).

1985 April 19 - .
1986 September - .
1989 October 18 - . 16:53 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-34R.
  • STS-34 - . Call Sign: Atlantis. Crew: Baker; Chang-Diaz; Lucid; McCulley; Williams, Donald. Payload: Atlantis F05 / Galileo [IUS]. Mass: 22,064 kg (48,642 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Baker; Chang-Diaz; Lucid; McCulley; Williams, Donald. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-34. Spacecraft: Atlantis. Duration: 4.99 days. Decay Date: 1989-10-23 . USAF Sat Cat: 20297 . COSPAR: 1989-084A. Apogee: 307 km (190 mi). Perigee: 298 km (185 mi). Inclination: 34.3000 deg. Period: 90.60 min. Manned five crew. Deployed Galileo .Payloads: Deploy IUS with Galileo spacecraft. Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SSBUV), Polymer Morphology (PM) experiments, IMAX camera project, Mesoscale Lightning Experiment (MLE), Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) experiment, Growth Hormone Concentration and Distribution (GHCD) in Plants experiment, Sensor Technology Experiment (STEX), SSIP Student Experiment (SE) 82-15, Ice Crystals Experiment. First flight at this inclination.

1989 October 23 - .
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