In September 1966, he entered active duty with the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He achieved the rank of Captain in 1967, was designated a naval aviator in 1968, and was subsequently assigned to duty flying F-4s with VMFA-333 at Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina. He flew 163 combat missions in Vietnam while assigned to VMFA-115 from January 1969 to 1970. He returned to the United States and an assignment as aviation weapons division officer with VMFA-251 at the Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina.
Thagard resumed his academic studies in 1971, pursuing additional studies in electrical engineering, and a degree in medicine; prior to coming to NASA, he was interning in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. He is a licensed physician.
He is a pilot and has logged over 2,200 hours flying time--the majority in jet aircraft.
Manned five crew. Deployed Anik C2, Palapa B1; deployed and retrieved SPAS platform. Payloads: Office of Space and Terrestrial Applications (OSTA)-2 experiments, deployment of PALAPA-B1 communications satellite for Indonesia with Payload Assist Module (PAM)-D and Telesat-F communications satellite for Canada with PAM-D, German Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS)-01, seven getaway specials (GAS), Monodisperse Latex Reactor (MLR), Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES).
Manned seven crew. Deployed Nusat; carried Spacelab 3. Payloads: Spacelab-3 experiments, habitable Spacelab and mission peculiar experiment support structure. The experiments represented a total of five different disciplines: materials processing in space, environmental observa-tions, life science, astrophysics, and technology experiments. Two getaway specials (GAS). The flight crew was split into gold and silver shifts working 12-hour days during the flight.
Planned shuttle mission for deployment of Galileo spacecraft. Cancelled after Challenger disaster.
Manned five crew. Deployed Magellan Venus probe. Payloads: Deploy IUS with Magellan spacecraft. Fluids Experiment Apparatus (FEA). Mesoscale Lightning Experiment (MLE), Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) experiment.
Manned seven crew. Carried International Microgravity Laboratory-1. Payloads: International Microgravity Laboratory (lML)-1, getaway special (GAS) bridge with 10 getaway specials, IMAX camera, Gelation of Sols: Applied Microgravity Research (GOSAMR)-1, Investigations Into Polymer Mem-brane Processing (IPMP), Radiation Monitoring Equipment (RME)-lll, Student Experiment 81-09: Convection in Zero Gravity, Student Experiment 83-02: Capillary Rise of Liquid Through Granular Porous Media.
Mir Expedition EO-18. Soyuz TM-21 carried the EO-18 Mir crew and American Norman Thagard. Thagard was the first American to be launched in a Soyuz. Soyuz docked with Mir at 07:45:26 GMT on March 16 . On July 4 Soyuz TM-21 undocked and backed off to a distance of 100 m from Mir. The US space shuttle Atlantis, with the EO-18 crew aboard, then undocked and began a flyaround at a distance of 210 m, while the EO-19 crew aboard Soyuz took pictures before redocking with the station. Soyuz TM-21 again undocked with the EO-19 crew on September 11 from the Kvant rear port on Mir and landed at 50 deg 41'N 68 deg 15'E, 108 km northeast of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan, at 06:52:40 GMT .