Robert Laurel Crippen

Robert Laurel Crippen

American engineer, retired US Navy captain and former NASA astronaut
Date of Birth: 11.09.1937
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Robert Laurel Crippen
  2. Education and Military Career
  3. NASA Career
  4. Later Career

Biography of Robert Laurel Crippen

Robert Laurel Crippen is an American engineer, retired United States Navy captain, and former NASA astronaut. He participated in four missions as part of the "Space Shuttle" program, including the inaugural mission, and three as a commander. Crippen was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. He is married to Pandora Lee Puckett from Miami, Florida, and they have three daughters.

Robert Laurel Crippen

Education and Military Career

After graduating from high school in New Caney, Texas, Crippen attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a bachelor's degree in aerospace technology in 1960. He was also elected a member of the Texas chapter of the Sigma Gamma Tau society. Crippen joined the United States Navy through the Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) program. He flew the Douglas A-4 "Skyhawk" as part of the 72nd Attack Squadron "Blue Hawks," based on the aircraft carrier "Independence." He later attended the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California. After completing the school, he remained at Edwards Air Force Base as an instructor until he was selected for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program in October 1966.

NASA Career

Crippen became a NASA astronaut in 1969 and served in support roles for the Skylab 2, Skylab 3, Skylab 4, and Apollo-Soyuz Test Project missions. He piloted the first orbital test flight as part of the "Space Shuttle" program (Columbia STS-1, April 12-14, 1981) and commanded three other missions: Challenger STS-7 (June 18-24, 1983), Challenger STS-41C (April 6-13, 1984), and Challenger STS-41G (October 6-13, 1984). Therefore, Crippen not only participated in the first space shuttle flight but also led the first five-person astronaut crew (STS-7, which also included the first American female astronaut), the first satellite repair operation (STS-41C), and the first seven-person astronaut crew (STS-41G). He was appointed as the commander of the STS-62A mission, which was supposed to launch from the new SLC-6 launch complex at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This mission was canceled after the Challenger disaster, and SLC-6 was closed after the U.S. Air Force returned to launching satellites on Titan rockets.

Later Career

Crippen retired from the United States Navy and served as the director of Kennedy Space Center from 1992 to 1995. During this period, the center prepared, launched, and landed 22 missions as part of the "Space Shuttle" program. He also achieved significant cost savings by implementing more efficient technologies. From April 1995 to November 1996, he worked as the vice-president of Lockheed Martin in Orlando, Florida. From December 1996 to April 2001, Crippen held the position of president of Thiokol, a company that produced solid rocket boosters for the "Space Shuttle" and other solid-fuel rocket engines.