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Kenneth Dale Cockrell Status: Active. Trained as: Astronaut. Profession: Pilot. Sex: Male. Marital Status: Married. Children: Two. Birth Date: 09 April 1950. Birth City: Austin. Birth State: Texas. Birth Country: USA. Nationality: American. Group: 1990 NASA Group. Date Selected: 17 January 1990. Number of Flights: 4. Total Time: 50.66 days.

NASA Official Biography

NAME: Kenneth D. Cockrell (Mr.)
NASA Astronaut

Born April 9, 1950, in Austin, Texas. Married to the former Joan Denice Raines of Houston, Texas. Two children. He enjoys sport flying, snow skiing, water skiing, tennis. His parents, Dale and Jewell Cockrell, reside in Westminster, South Carolina. Her parents, Leon and Rosemary Raines, reside in Houston.

Graduated from Rockdale High School, Rockdale, Texas, in 1968; received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from University of Texas in 1972, and a master of science degree in aeronautical systems from the University of West Florida in 1974.

Member, Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP), and Association of Space Explorers (ASE).

Awarded the Armed Forces Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal. Received the Alcoa Foundation Scholarship upon graduating from high school.

Cockrell received his commission through the Naval Aviation Reserve Officer Candidate Program at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, in December 1972. He was designated a naval aviator in August 1974 at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Following type training in the A-7 aircraft, he flew the Corsair II from 1975 to 1978 aboard the USS Midway in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. In 1978 he reported to the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. After graduation in 1979, he remained at the Naval Air Test Center conducting a variety of flight tests on the A-4, A-7, F-4, and F/A-18 aircraft through mid-1982. He then reported to Naval Station, San Diego, for duty as a staff officer for the Commander of the USS Ranger and subsequently the USS Kitty Hawk Battle Groups. Cockrell was then assigned as a pilot in an operational F/A-18 squadron and made two cruises on the USS Constellation in 1985 and 1987. He resigned his commission in 1987 and accepted a position at the Aircraft Operations Division of the Johnson Space Center. Cockrell is a captain in the United States Naval Reserve. He has logged over 6,300 flying hours and 650 carrier landings.

From November 1987 to July 1990, Cockrell worked as an aerospace engineer and research pilot at Ellington Field, Houston. He was an instructor pilot and functional check pilot in NASA T-38 aircraft. He conducted air sampling and other high altitude research while piloting the WB-57 and was an aircraft commander in the Gulfstream I administrative transport aircraft.

Selected by NASA in January 1990, Cockrell became an astronaut in July 1991. He is qualified for assignment as a pilot on future Space Shuttle flight crews. His technical assignments to date include: duties in the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch, working on landing, rollout, tires and brakes issues; CAPCOM in Mission Control for ascent and entry; Astronaut Office representative for Flight Data File, the numerous books of procedures carried aboard Shuttle flights. He served as Assistant to the Chief of the Astronaut Office for Shuttle operations and hardware, and has served as Chief of the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch. A veteran of three space flights, he has logged over 906 hours in space. He flew on STS-56 in 1993, STS-69 in 1995, and STS-80 in 1996. Cockrell is currently acting Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office.

Cockrell flew as a mission specialist on the crew of STS-56, carrying ATLAS-2. During the nine-day mission the crew of Discovery conducted atmospheric and solar studies in order to better understand the effect of solar activity on the Earth's climate and environment. STS-56 launched April 8, 1993, and landed April 17, 1993. Mission duration was 9 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes, 21 seconds.

Cockrell next served as pilot on STS-69, September 7-18, 1995. The primary objective of the mission was the successful deployment and retrieval of a SPARTAN satellite and the Wake Shield Facility (WSF). The WSF is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of using this free-flying experiment to grow semiconductors, high temperature superconductors and other materials using the ultra-high vacuum created behind the spacecraft near the experiment package. Mission duration was 10 days, 20 hours, 28 minutes.

Most recently, Cockrell commanded the STS-80 mission (November 19 to December 7, 1996) aboard Columbia. During the flight the crew deployed and retrieved the Wake Shield Facility (WSF) and the Orbiting Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer (ORFEUS) satellites. The WSF is designed to fly free of the Shuttle, creating a super vacuum in its wake in which to grow thin film wafers for use in semiconductors and other high-tech electrical components. The ORFEUS instruments, mounted on the reusable Shuttle Pallet Satellite, will study the origin and makeup of stars. Mission duration was a record breaking 17 days, 15 hours, 53 minutes.


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Last update 3 May 2001.
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