Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Two veteran astronauts leaving NASA

Two astronauts who have flown a combined eight shuttle missions are leaving NASA, the agency has announced.

Linda Godwin has retired and Scott "Scooter" Altman is leaving Friday to pursue a private sector opportunity.

Godwin, 58, is a native of Jackson, Mo., and holds a physics doctorate.

She's ending a 30-year NASA career that began as a payload integration officer and flight controller. She became an astronaut in 1985 and flew four shuttle missions in 1991, 1994, 1996 and 2001.

All together, Godwin spent more than 38 days in space and performed two spacewalks totaling more than 10 hours. Most recently she was assistant to the director for exploration in the Flight Crew Operations Directorate.

Altman, 51, is a retired Navy captain and native of Pekin, Ill. who became an astronaut in 1995.

He last year led the fifth and final mission to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope, his second trip to the observatory as a shuttle commander. His flights -- the first two as a pilot -- were in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2009, totaling more than 51 days in space. Another fun fact: he flew stunts for Tom Cruise during the filming of "Top Gun."

Altman most recently served as chief of the Astronaut Office's Exploration Branch. He's joining ASRC Research and Technology Solutions in Greenbelt, Md., as vice president of strategic planning, the company announced today.

Read the NASA announcement here.

With the departures of Godwin and Altman, four astronauts have left NASA this year, in addition to four last year. The others: Heidi Stephanyshyn-Piper, Scott Parazynski, Pam Melroy, John Grunsfeld, Dom Gorie and Danny Olivas.

As of today, the agency has 70 active astronauts and nine U.S. astronaut candidates in training.

IMAGES: In December 2001, STS-108 mission specialist Linda Godwin was photographed on the mid-deck of the space shuttle Endeavour during the transfer of supplies and equipment between the shuttle and the International Space Station. On May 17, 2009, STS-124 commander Scott Altman used a communication system on the aft flight deck of the Earth-orbiting space shuttle Atlantis during flight day seven activities. Credit: NASA.


Anonymous said...

Well done.Cannot blame them for getting out now.Too bad the only ride the "Astronauts " will be taking soon is ride on a Soyuz. "Great Job"Obama.

Anonymous said...

Even the youngest astronauts may never fly, given the long wait until the US has a place to go and a way to get there.

Anonymous said...

Correction: Altman was STS-125 commander, not STS-124

Rich said...

While there will be fewer slots in the foreseeable future, they still have a place to go the ISS will fly until at least 2020.

Anonymous said...

It a shame that the Federal Government can no longer support a valuable program and astronauts are leaving with all their knowledge and talents.

When will the US become a leader again in the space industry an upgrade it's programs and purpose.

Shame on the US for letting other country do what we use to do best.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want to fly a Soyuz either. Probably the first wave of astronauts to leave will be soon. This is only the start... Thanks Ovamit...