MIT logs 40 years of flight

NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin (Sc.D. in aeronautics and astronautics, 1963) became the first MIT graduate to walk in space during the Gemini 12 mission in 1966. Three years later, on July 20, 1969, Aldrin and fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong conducted the first extra-vehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface during the Apollo 11 mission.

Three other MIT graduates, David Scott (S.M. and E.A.A. in aeronautics and astronautics, 1962), Charles Duke (S.M. in aeronautics and astronautics, 1964), and Edgar Mitchell (Sc.D. in aeronautics and astronautics, 1964) conducted a total of nine more lunar surface EVAs during the Apollo program. Russell Schweickart (B.S. and M.S. in aeronautics and astronautics, 1963) conducted the first EVA in the Apollo program in 1969.

During the space shuttle program, seven other MIT graduates completed a total of 21 EVAs including Franklin Chang-Diaz (Sc.D. in nuclear engineering, 1977), Mark Lee (S.M. in mechanical engineering, 1980), Jay Apt (Ph.D. in physics, 1976), John Grunsfeld (S.B. in physics, 1980), Edward Fincke (S.B. in aeronautics and astronautics and S.B. in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, 1989), Michael Massimino (S.M. in 1988, M.E. in 1990 and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, 1992, and S.M. in technology and policy in 1988), and Daniel Tani (S.B. in 1984 and S.M. in mechanical engineering, 1988).

MIT professor and former NASA astronaut Jeffrey A. Hoffman completed four spacewalks, including the first EVAs to service the Hubble Space Telescope on a space shuttle mission in 1993.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 4, 2006 (download PDF).

Topics: Aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Space, astronomy and planetary science, Alumni/ae

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