Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Harris became an astronaut in July 1991. He is qualified for assignment as a mission specialist on future Space Shuttle flight crews. He served as the crew representative for Shuttle Software in the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch. A veteran of two space flights, Dr. Harris has logged more than 438 hours in space. He was a mission specialist on STS-55 (April 26 to May 6, 1993), and was the Payload Commander on STS-63 (February 2-11, 1995).
Dr. Harris was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-55, Spacelab D-2, in August 1991, and later flew on board Columbia for ten days, (April 26 to May 6, 1993), marking the Shuttle's one year of total flight time. Dr. Harris was part of the payload crew of Spacelab D-2, conducting a variety of research in physical and life sciences. During this flight, Dr. Harris logged over 239 hours and 4,164,183 miles in space.
Most recently, Dr. Harris was the Payload Commander on STS-63 (February 2-11, 1995), the first flight of the new joint Russian-American Space Program. Mission highlights included the rendezvous with the Russian Space Station, Mir, operation of a variety of investigations in the Spacehab module, and the deployment and retrieval of Spartan 204. During the flight, Dr. Harris became the first African-American to walk in space. He logged 198 hours, 29 minutes in space, completed 129 orbits, and traveled over 2.9 million miles.
Dr. Harris left NASA in April 1996 to become Vice President of Microgravity and Life Sciences for SPACEHAB Incorporated of Houston, Texas.
Manned seven crew. Carried German Spacelab-D2. Payloads: Spacelab D-2 with long module, unique support structure (USS), and Reaction Kinetics in Glass Melts (RKGM) getaway special, Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) II.
Deployed ODERACS 2A-2E; deployed and retrieved Spartan 204. Discovery rendezvoused with Russia's space station, Mir, to a distance of 11 m and performed a fly-around, but did not dock with Mir. Payloads: SPACEHAB 03, Shuttle Pointed Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy (SPARTAN) 204, Cryo Systems Experiment (CSE)/GLO-2 Experi-ment Payload (CGP)/Orbital Debris Radar Calibration Spheres (ODERACS) 2, Solid Surface Combustion Experiment (SSCE), Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS), IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC)
Tested tools and techniques for extravehicular activity.