Official NASA Biography - 1997
He has logged over 5,400 hours flying time in approximately 50 different types of airplanes, including tactical jets, VSTOL, multi-engine transport and rotary wing aircraft, and has over 300 carrier landings to his credit.
Following the Challenger accident, from January 1986 to December 1987, Baker was assigned as a member of the team that was pursuing redesign, modification and improvements to the Shuttle Landing and Deceleration Systems, including nosewheel steering, brakes, tires, and drag chute, in an effort to provide greater safety margins during landing and rollout. He was then assigned to the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), where he was involved in the checkout and verification of the computer software and hardware interfaces for STS-26 (the return-to-flight mission) and subsequent flights.
Baker then served as an ascent, entry and orbit spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) for STS-27, STS-29, STS-30, STS-28, STS-34, STS-33, STS-32, STS-36, STS-31, STS-38, and STS-35. In this capacity his duties included communication with the Shuttle crew during simulations and actual missions, as well as working procedural problems and modifications between missions. He served as the leader of the Astronaut Support Personnel team at the Kennedy Space Center for Shuttle Missions STS-44, STS-42 and STS-45. From December 1992 to January 1994 he was assigned as the Flight Crew Operations Directorate Representative to the Space Shuttle Program Office. From March to October 1995 he served as the Director of Operations for NASA at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia,. He was responsible for the coordination and implementation of mission operation activities in the Moscow region for the joint U.S./Russian Shuttle/Mir program.
A veteran of four space flights, Baker has logged 965 hours in space. He served as pilot on STS-43 (August 2-11, 1991) and STS-52 (October 22 to November 1, 1992), and was the mission commander on STS-68 (September 30 to October 11, 1994) and STS-81 (January 12-22, 1997).
STS-52 Space Shuttle Columbia launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on October 22, 1992. During the mission crew members deployed the Italian Laser Geodynamic Satellite (LAGEOS) which will be used to measure movement of the Earth's crust, and operated the U.S. Microgravity Payload 1 (USMP-1). Additionally, the Space Vision System (SVS) developed by the Canadian Space Agency was tested by the Canadian payload specialist and the crew using a small target assembly which was released from the remote manipulator system. The SVS will be used for Space Station construction. These three primary payloads together with numerous other payloads operated by the crew encompassed geophysics, materials science, biological research and applied research for Space Station Freedom. Following 159 orbits of the Earth, the 10-day mission concluded with a landing on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center on November 1, 1992. Mission duration was 236 hours, 56 minutes, 13 seconds.
STS-68 Space Shuttle Endeavour launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on September 30, 1994. This flight was the second flight of the Space Radar Laboratory (SRL) comprised of a large radar called SIR-C/X-SAR (Shuttle Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar) and MAPS (Measurement of Air Pollution from Satellites). As part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, SRL was an international, multidisciplinary study of global environmental change, both natural and man-made. The primary objective was to radar map the surface of the Earth to help us understand the contributions of ecology, hydrology, geology, and oceanography to changes in our Planet's environment. Real-time crew observations of environmental conditions, along with over 14,000 photographs, aided in interpretation of the radar images. This SRL mission was a highly successful test of technology intended for long-term environmental and geological monitoring of planet Earth. Following 183 orbits of the Earth, the eleven-day mission concluded with a landing on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on October 11, 1994. Mission duration was 269 hours, 46 minutes, 10 seconds.
STS-81 Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on January 12, 1997. STS-81 was the fifth in a series of joint missions between the U.S. Space Shuttle and the Russian Space Station Mir and the second one involving an exchange of U.S. astronauts. In five days of docked operations more than three tons of food, water, experiment equipment and samples were moved back and forth between the two spacecraft. Following 160 orbits of the Earth the STS-81 mission concluded with a landing on Kennedy Space Center's Runway 33 ending a 3.9 million mile journey. Mission duration was 244 hours, 56 minutes.
Manned five crew. Deployed TDRS 5 satellite. Payloads: Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS)-E/lnertial Upper Stage (lUS), Space Station Heatpipe Advanced Radiator Element (SHARE)-ll, Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SSBUV) instrument 03, Optical Communications Through the Shuttle Window (OCTW), Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) Calibration Test, Auroral Photography Experiment (APE)-B, Bioserve-lnstrumentation Technology Associates Materials Dispersion Apparatus (BlMDA)-02, Investigations Into Polymer Membrane Processing (IPMP)-03, Protein Crystal Growth Ill Block Il, Space Acceleration Measure-ment System (SAMS), Solid Surface Combustion Experiment (SSCE)-02, Tank Pressure Control Experiment (TPCE).
Deployed Lageos 2, CTA. Payloads: Laser Geodynamic Satellite (LAGEOS) II/ Italian Research Interim Stage (IRIS), Canadian Experiments (CANEX) 2, United States Micro-gravity Payload (USMP) 1, Attitude Sensor Pack-age (ASP), Tank Pressure Control Experiment (TPCE), Physiological Systems Experiment (PSE), Heat Pipe Performance (HPP) experiment, Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG), Shuttle Plume Impingement Experiment (SPIE), Commercial Materials ITA Experiment (CMIX), Crystals by Vapor Transport Experiment (CVTE).
Carried SIR-C SAR. Landed at Edwards Air Force Base on October 11. Payloads: Space Radar Laboratory (SRL) 2, five Getaway Special payloads, Chromosome and Plant Cell Division in Space (CHROMEX) 5, Biological Research in Canisters (BRIC) 01, Cosmic Radiation Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM), Military Application of Ship Tracks (MAST), Commercial Protein Crystal Growth (CPCG).
After a night launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, the Shuttle docked with Mir at 03:55 GMT on January 14. STS-81 transferred 2,715 kg of equipment to and from the Mir, the largest transfer of items to that date. During the docked phase, 640 kg of water, 515 kg of U.S. science equipment, 1,000 kg of Russian logistics, and 120 kg of miscellaneous material were transferred to Mir. Returned to Earth aboard Atlantis were 570 kg of U.S. science material, 405 kg of Russian logistics and 98 kg of miscellaneous material. At 02:16 GMT January 19, Atlantis separated from Mir after picking up John Blaha, who had arrived aboard STS-79 on September 19, 1996, and dropping off Jerry Linenger, who was to stay aboard Mir for over four months. The Shuttle backed off along the -RBAR (i.e. toward the Earth) to a distance of 140 m before beginning a flyaround at 02:31 GMT. Most of the flyaround was at a distance from Mir of 170 m. The first 'orbit' around Mir was complete at 03:15, and the second was completed at 04:02 GMT. Then the Orbiter fired its jets to drift away from the orbit of Mir. NASA's first Shuttle mission of 1997 came to a close with a landing at the Kennedy Space Center at 14:22 GMT on January 22 (after the first opportunity was waved off due to cloud cover at the Cape).