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David Cornell (Dave) Leestma Status: Active. Trained as: Astronaut. Profession: Mission Specialist. Sex: Male. Marital Status: Married. Children: Six. Birth Date: 06 May 1949. Birth City: Muskegon. Birth State: Michigan. Birth Country: USA. Nationality: American. Group: 1980 NASA Group. Date Selected: 19 May 1980. Date Departed: 30 November 1992. Number of Flights: 3. Total Time: 22.19 days. Number of EVAs: 1. Total EVA Time: 3.48 hours.

NASA Official Biography

NAME: David C. Leestma (Captain, USN, ret.)
NASA Astronaut

Born May 6, 1949, in Muskegon, Michigan. Married to the former Patti K. Opp of Dallas, Texas. They have six children. He enjoys golfing, tennis, flying, and fishing. His parents, Dr. and Mrs. Harold F. Leestma, reside in San Clemente, California. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Opp, reside in Wimberley, Texas.

Graduated from Tustin High School, Tustin, California, in 1967; received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the United States Naval Academy in 1971, and a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1972.

Associate Fellow, American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics (AIAA); Life Member, Association of Naval Aviation.

The Distinguished Flying Cross, Legion of Merit, Defense Superior Service Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation (VX-4), National Defense Service Medal, Battle "E" Award (VF-32), the Rear Admiral Thurston James Award (1973), the NASA Space Flight Medal (1984, 1989, 1992), the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1985, 1988, 1991, 1992), and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (1993, 1994).

Leestma was graduated first in his class from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971. As a first lieutenant afloat, he was assigned to USS Hepburn (DE-1055) in Long Beach, California, before reporting in January 1972 to the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He completed flight training and received his wings in October 1973. He was assigned to VF-124 in San Diego, California, for initial flight training in the F-14A Tomcat and then transferred to VF-32 in June 1974 and was stationed at Virginia Beach, Virginia. Leestma made three overseas deployments to the Mediterranean/North Atlantic areas while flying aboard the USS John F. Kennedy. In 1977, he was reassigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four (VX-4) at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California. As an operational test director with the F-14A, he conducted the first operational testing of new tactical software for the F-14 and completed the follow-on test and evaluation of new F-14A avionics, including the programmable signal processor. He also served as fleet model manager for the F-14A tactical manual.

He has logged over 3,500 hours of flight time, including nearly 1,500 hours in the F-14A.

Selected to become an astronaut in 1980, Leestma served as a mission specialist on the crew of STS- 41G, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on October 5, 1984. It was the sixth flight of the Orbiter Challenger and the thirteenth flight of the Space Shuttle system. The seven-person crew also included two payload specialists: one from Canada, and one a Navy oceanographer. During this mission the crew deployed the ERBS satellite using the remote manipulator system (RMS), operated the OSTA-3 payload (including the SIR-B radar, FILE, and MAPS experiments) and the Large Format Camera (LFC), conducted a satellite refueling demonstration using hydrazine fuel with the Orbital Refueling System (ORS), and conducted numerous in-cabin experiments as well as activating eight "Getaway Special" canisters. Dave Leestma and Kathryn Sullivan successfully conducted a 3-1/2 hour extravehicular activity (EVA) to demonstrate the feasibility of actual satellite refueling. STS-41G completed 132 orbits of the Earth in 197.5 hours before landing at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on October 13, 1984.

Following his flight Leestma served as a capsule communicator (CAPCOM) for STS-51C through STS-61A. He was then assigned as the Chief, Mission Development Branch, responsible for assessing the operational integration requirements of payloads that will fly aboard the Shuttle.

Leestma next served on the crew of STS-28, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on August 8, 1989, aboard the Orbiter Columbia. The mission carried Department of Defense payloads and a number of secondary payloads. After 80 orbits of the Earth, this five-day mission concluded with a lakebed landing on Runway 17 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on August 13, 1989.

From February 1990 to September 1991, when he started training for his third space mission, Leestma served as Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations.

On March 24, 1992, Leestma and his crew mates launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, aboard the Orbiter Atlantis on a nine-day mission to study atmospheric and solar phenomena. The mission carried the ATLAS-1 (Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science) Spacelab aloft, as well as a number of additional secondary payloads. STS-45 landed on April 2, 1992 on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, after completing 142 orbits of the Earth.

A veteran of three space flights, Leestma has logged a total of 532.7 hours in space.

Leestma was assigned as Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office, and was serving as Acting Chief of the Astronaut Office when selected to his present position in December 1992.

Leestma is Director of Flight Crew Operations.


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Last update 3 May 2001.
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