- Awarded the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Louis Blériot Medal
- Awarded the Yuri A. Gagarin Gold Medal
- Established FAI world records for Altitude in Horizontal Flight
- First docking of a shuttle with the Russian space station Mir
- Only astronaut to serve as mission commander on four different shuttles
- Dr. Margaret Rhea Seddon is a physician & retired NASA astronaut
Robert Lee Gibson, Captain USN, aviator, test pilot and aeronautical engineer, NASA astronaut:
Awarded the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI)
Louis Bleriot Medal
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
Freedom of Flight Award.
Established world records:
“Altitude in Horizontal Flight”
“Time to Climb to 9000 Meters”.
Military awards include: the Defense Superior Service Medal;
Distinguished Flying Cross; 3 Air Medals; the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”; a Navy Unit Commendation; Meritorious Unit Commendation; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; and Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Gibson became an astronaut in August 1979. Gibson has flown five missions: STS 41-B in 1984, STS 61-C in 1986, STS-27 in 1988, STS-47 in 1992, and STS-71 in 1995. Gibson served as Chief of the Astronaut Office and as Deputy Director, Flight Crew Operations.
On his first space flight Gibson was the pilot on the crew of STS 41-B which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The flight accomplished the proper Shuttle deployment of two Hughes 376 communications satellites which failed to reach desired geosynchronous orbits due to upper stage rocket failures. Rendezvous sensors and computer programs were flight tested for the first time. The STS 41-B mission marked the first checkout of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU),and Manipulator Foot Restraint (MFR), performing two spectacular EVA’s (space walks). The German Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS), The eight-day orbital flight of Challenger culminated in the first landing on the runway at the Kennedy Space Center on February 11, 1984, and Gibson logged 191 hours in space.
Gibson was the spacecraft commander of the STS 61-C mission. The seven-man crew on board the Orbiter Columbia launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on January 12, 1986. During the six-day flight the crew deployed the SATCOM KU satellite and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing. The mission concluded with a successful night landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on January 18, 1986, and logged him an additional 146 hours in space.
Gibson subsequently participated in the investigation of the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, and also participated in the redesign and recertification of the solid rocket boosters.
As the spacecraft commander of STS-27, Gibson and his five-man crew launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on December 2, 1988, aboard the Orbiter Atlantis. The mission carried a Department of Defense payload, and a number of secondary payloads. After 68 orbits of the Earth the mission concluded with a dry lakebed landing on Runway 17 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on December 6, 1988. Mission duration was 105 hours.
On Gibson’s fourth space flight, the 50th Space Shuttle mission, he served as spacecraft commander of STS-47, Spacelab-J, which launched on September 12, 1992 aboard the Orbiter Endeavour. The mission was a cooperative venture between the United States and Japan, and included the first Japanese astronaut as a member of the seven-person crew. During the eight-day flight, the crew focused on life science and materials processing experiments in over forty investigations in the Spacelab laboratory, as well as scientific and engineering tests performed aboard the Orbiter Endeavour. The mission ended with a successful landing on the runway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after 126 orbits of the Earth on September 20, 1992.
Captain Gibson commanded a crew of seven-members (up) and eight-members (down) on Space Shuttle mission STS-71. This was the first Space Shuttle mission to dock with the Russian Space Station Mir, and involved an exchange of crews. The Atlantis Space Shuttle was modified to carry a docking system compatible with the Russian Mir Space Station. It also carried a Spacelab module in the payload bay in which the crew performed various life sciences experiments and data collections. Mission duration was 235 hours, 23 minutes.
In five space flights, Gibson has completed a total of 36-1/2 days in space.