NAME: John E. Blaha (Colonel, USAF, Ret.)
BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Born August 26, 1942, in San Antonio, Texas. His mother, Mrs. Frances E. Blaha, resides in San Antonio. His father was the late Colonel Elmer C. Blaha, USAF.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Brown hair; brown eyes; 5 feet 9 inches; 175 pounds.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Granby High School in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1960; received a bachelor of science in engineering science from the United States Air Force Academy in 1965 and a master of science in astronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1966.
MARITAL STATUS: Married to the former Brenda I. Walters of St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother, Mrs. Della Walters, resides in Toledo, Illinois. Her father, Mr. Henderson Walters, is deceased.
CHILDREN: James H., February 11, 1966; Steven A., December 6, 1969; and Carolyn A., July 26 1973.
RECREATIONAL INTERESTS: He enjoys exercise and tennis.
ORGANIZATIONS: Member of the Association of Space Explorers, Purdue Alumni Association, Purdue Parents Advisory Council, Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Air Force Academy Association of Graduates.
SPECIAL HONORS: NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 4 NASA Space Flight Medals, Countdown Magazine Outstanding Astronaut of 1991, Defense Superior Service medal, Legion of Merit, 2 Air Force Distinguished Flying Crosses, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, 18 Air Medals, Air Force Commendation Medal, the British Royal Air Force Cross, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, and the Purdue Engineering Alumnus Award. Outstanding Pilot, F-4 Combat Crew Training. Outstanding Junior Officer of the Year, 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing. Distinguished Graduate Air Force Test Pilot School. Distinguished Graduate Air Command and Staff College.
NASA EXPERIENCE: Selected as an astronaut in May 1980, Blaha has logged 33 days in space on 4 space missions: Commander STS-58, Commander STS-43, Pilot STS-33, and Pilot STS-29. On his first space mission Blaha was the STS-29 pilot. The five-man crew launched on the Space Shuttle Discovery on March 13, 1989, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base on March 18, 1989. During this very successful mission the crew deployed the East Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, and performed eight scientific/medical experiments. Blaha also was the pilot on the crew of STS-33 which launched at night from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on November 22, 1989, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. The five-day mission carried Department of Defense payloads and other secondary payloads. After 79 orbits of the Earth, this highly successful mission concluded on November 27, 1989, with a hard surface landing on Runway 4 at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
On STS-43 Blaha commanded a five-person crew aboard the Orbiter Atlantis. The nine-day mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center on August 2, 1991. During the flight crew members deployed the West Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, and conducted 32 physical, material, and life science experiments that supported the development of the Extended Duration Orbiter and Space Station. After 142 orbits of the Earth, this very significant mission concluded with a landing on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center on August 11, 1991.
On STS-58 Blaha commanded a seven-person life science research mission aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, launching from the Kennedy Space Center on October 18, 1993, and landing at Edwards Air Force Base on Runway 22 on November 1, 1993. This record duration fourteen-day Space Shuttle mission has been recognized by NASA management as the most successful and efficient Spacelab flight that NASA has flown. The crew performed neurovestibular, cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary, metabolic, and musculoskeletal medical experiments on themselves and 48 rats, expanding our knowledge of human and animal physiology both on earth and in space flight. In addition, the crew performed 16 engineering tests aboard the Orbiter Columbia and 20 Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project experiments.
In addition to flying 4 space missions, Blaha has served as the Chairman, NASA Space Flight Safety Panel; Weather Manager, Mission Management Team; lead spacecraft communicator; member, NASA Space Shuttle Improvement Panel. Blaha also led the design, development, and integration of the Orbiter Head Up Display system. Additionally, he led the development of contingency abort procedures which significantly improve crew survivability in the event of multiple main engine failures during ascent.
AIR FORCE EXPERIENCE: Blaha received his pilot wings at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, in 1967. He was subsequently assigned as an operational pilot flying F-4, F-102, F-106, and A-37 aircraft (completing 361 combat missions in Vietnam). He attended the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1971, and piloted the NF-104 research aircraft to 104,400 feet. Following graduation, he served as an F-104 instructor pilot at the test pilot school, teaching low lift-to-drag approach, zoom, performance, stability/control, and spin flight test techniques. In 1973, he was assigned as a test pilot working with the Royal Air Force at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment, Boscombe Down, United Kingdom. During a 3-year tour, he flew stability/control, performance, spin, and weapons delivery flight tests in the Jaguar, Buccaneer, Hawk, and Jet Provost aircraft.
In 1976 he attended the USAF Air Command and Staff College. After graduation, he was assigned to work for the Assistant Chief of Staff, Studies and Analyses, at Headquarters USAF in the Pentagon. During this tour, he presented F-15 and F-16 study results to Department of Defense, State Department, and congressional staffs. He has logged more than 6,000 hours of flying time in 34 different aircraft. He has written numerous technical articles on spacecraft performance and control. Blaha retired from the Air Force in August 1993.