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Donald Edward Williams Status: Inactive. Trained as: Astronaut. Profession: Pilot. Sex: Male. Marital Status: Married. Children: Two. Birth Date: 13 February 1942. Birth City: Lafayette. Birth State: Indiana. Birth Country: USA. Nationality: American. Group: 1978 NASA Group. Date Selected: 16 January 1978. Departed: 1990. Number of Flights: 2. Total Time: 11.98 days.

Official NASA Biography

NAME: Donald E. Williams (Captain, USN)

NASA Astronaut

BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Born February 13, 1942, in Lafayette, Indiana. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Williams, reside in Houston, Texas.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Brown hair; brown eyes; height: 5 feet 11 inches; weight: 155 pounds.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Otterbein High School, Otterbein, Indiana, in 1960; received a bachelor of science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 1964.

MARITAL STATUS: Married to the former Linda Jo Grubaugh of Sturgis, Michigan. Her mother, Mrs. Herbert E. Grubaugh, resides in Howe, Indiana.

CHILDREN: Jonathan Edward, September 17, 1974; Barbara Jane, July 10, 1976.

RECREATIONAL INTERESTS: He enjoys all sports activities, and his interests also include running, and photography.

ORGANIZATIONS: Member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

SPECIAL HONORS: Awarded 31 Air Medals, 2 Navy Commendation Medals with Combat V, 2 Navy Unit Commendations, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, the National Defense Medal, an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the NASA Space Flight Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal (with 4 stars), a Vietnamese Gallantry Cross (with gold star), and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

EXPERIENCE: Williams received his commission through the NROTC program at Purdue University. He completed flight training at Pensacola, Florida; Meridian, Mississippi; and Kingsville, Texas, receiving his wings in May 1966.

After A-4 training, he made two Vietnam deployments aboard the USS ENTERPRISE with Attack Squadron 113. He served as a flight instructor in Attack Squadron 125 at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, for 2 years and transitioned to A-7 aircraft. He made two additional Vietnam deployments aboard the USS ENTERPRISE with CVW-14 staff and Attack Squadron 97. Williams completed a total of 330 combat missions.

In 1973, Williams attended the Armed Forces Staff College. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, in June 1974, and was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center's Carrier Suitability Branch of Flight Test Division. From August 1976 to June 1977, following reorganization of the Naval Air Test Center, he was head of the Carrier Systems Branch, Strike Aircraft Test Directorate. He reported next for A-7 refresher training and was assigned to Attack Squadron 94 when selected by NASA.

He has logged more than 6,000 hours flying time, which includes 5,700 hours in jets and 745 carrier landings.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Selected by NASA in January 1978, Williams became an astronaut in August 1979, qualified for assignment as a pilot on future Space Shuttle flight crews. Since then he has had various support assignments, including working at the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory as a test pilot, and at the Kennedy Space Center participating in Orbiter test, checkout, launch, and landing operations. From September 1982 through July 1983, he was assigned as the Deputy Manager, Operations Integration, National Space Transportation System Program Office at the Johnson Space Center.

Williams was pilot for STS-51D, the fourth flight of Discovery and the sixteenth Shuttle mission. Launch was from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 12, 1985. The crew deployed ANIK-C for Telesat of Canada, and Syncom IV-3 for the U.S. Navy. A malfunction in the Syncom spacecraft resulted in the first unscheduled EVA, rendezvous and proximity operations for the Space Shuttle in an attempt to activate the satellite. Additionally the 51D crew conducted several medical experiments, two student experiments, activated two Getaway Specials and filmed experiments with toys in space. After 168 hours of orbital operations, and 109 orbits of the earth, Discovery landed on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center on April 19, 1985.

From July 1985 through August 1986, Williams was the Deputy Chief of the Aircraft Operations Division at the Johnson Space Center. Williams also served as Chief of the Mission Support Branch within the Astronaut Office.

On his second space flight, Williams commanded STS-34. Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on October 18, 1989, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on October 23, 1989. During the mission the crew successfully deployed the Galileo spacecraft, starting its journey to explore Jupiter, operated the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Instrument (SSBUV) to map atmospheric ozone, and performed numerous secondary experiments involving radiation measurements, polymer morphology, lightning research, microgravity effects on plants, and a student experiment on ice crystal growth in space. Mission duration was 79 orbits of the earth, and logged Captain Williams an additional 119 hours and 41 minutes in space.


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Last update 3 May 2001.
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