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Mario Runco Jr Status: Active. Trained as: Astronaut. Profession: Mission Specialist. Sex: Male. Marital Status: Married. Children: Two. Birth Date: 26 January 1952. Birth City: Bronx. Birth State: New York. Birth Country: USA. Nationality: American. Group: 1987 NASA Group. Date Selected: 05 June 1987. Number of Flights: 3. Total Time: 22.96 days. Number of EVAs: 1. Total EVA Time: 4.35 hours.

NASA Official Biography

NAME: Mario Runco, Jr.
NASA Astronaut

Born January 26, 1952, in the Bronx, New York, but considers Yonkers, New York, to be his hometown. Married to the former Susan Kay Friess of Sylvania, Ohio. They have two children. His parents, Mario & Filomena Runco, reside in Yonkers, New York. Her parents, Frederick & Margaret Friess, reside in Sylvania, Ohio.

Graduated from Cardinal Hayes High School, Bronx, New York, in 1970; received a bachelor of science degree in meteorology and physical oceanography from the City College of New York in 1974, and a master of science degree in meteorology from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1976.

Enjoys ice hockey, softball, racquet ball, snow skiing, camping, hiking, and astronomy. Played intercollegiate ice hockey on the City College of New York and Rutgers University teams.

Awarded the Defense Superior Service, Defense Meritorious Service, NASA Exceptional Service, Navy Achievement and Navy Pistol Expert Medals. Also awarded two NASA Space Flight Medals (STS-44 and STS-54), two Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbons (USS Nassau and USNS Chauvenet), and the Navy Battle Efficiency Ribbon (USS Nassau). Mr. Runco was also the recipient of the City College of New York's Townsend Harris Medal (1993), and the Cardinal Hayes High School John Cardinal Spellman Award (1993). As an undergraduate, he was awarded the City College of New York Class of 1938 Athletic Service Award.

After graduating from Rutgers University, Runco worked for a year as a research hydrologist conducting ground water surveys for the U.S. Geological Survey on Long Island, New York. In 1977, he joined the New Jersey State Police and, after completing training at the New Jersey State Police Academy, he worked as a New Jersey State Trooper until he entered the Navy in June 1978. Upon completion of Navy Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, in September 1978, he was commissioned and assigned to the Navy Oceanographic and Atmospheric Research Lab in Monterey, California, as a research meteorologist. From April 1981 to December 1983, he served as the Meteorological Officer aboard the Amphibious Assault Ship USS Nassau (LHA-4). It was during this tour of duty that he earned his designation as a Naval Surface Warfare Officer and Officer of the Deck. From January 1984 to December 1985, he worked as a laboratory instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. From December 1985 to December 1986, he served as Commanding Officer of the Naval Survey Vessel USNS Chauvenet (T-AGS 29), and conducted hydrographic and oceanographic surveys of the Java Sea and Indian Ocean. His last assignment within the Navy was as Fleet Environmental Services Officer, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Runco joined NASA in 1987.

Selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in June 1987, Runco qualified for assignment as an astronaut mission specialist in August of 1988. His technical assignments to date include having served in Operations Development, where he assisted in the design, development and testing of the Space Shuttle crew escape system; in Mission Support, at the Software Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), where he performed test and evaluation of Space Shuttle mission-specific flight software; at the Kennedy Space Center, as astronaut support, where he assisted in preparing Space Shuttle missions for launch, and in the Mission Control Center as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM). A veteran of three space flights, STS-44 in 1991, STS-54 in 1993 and STS-77 in 1996, Runco has logged over 551 hours in space.

On his first flight, Runco served on the crew of STS-44 aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis which launched on the night of November 24, 1991. The primary mission objective was accomplished with the successful deployment of a Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite. In addition, the crew conducted two Military Man-in-Space experiements, three radiation monitoring experiments, and numerous medical tests in support of long duration space flights. The mission was concluded after completing 110 orbits of the Earth. Atlantis returned to a landing on the lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on December 1, 1991. Mission duration was 6 days, 22 hours and 50 minutes.

Runco next served as a mission specialist on the crew of STS-54 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. STS-54 (January 13-19, 1993) launched and landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The six-day mission featured the deployment of a $200-million NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-F). Also carried in the payload bay was the Diffuse X-Ray Spectrometer (DXS). This astronomical instrument scanned the local vicinity of the Milky Way galaxy in the direction of the Constellation Orion recording the low-energy X-ray emanations believed to originate from the plasma remnants of an ancient nearby supernova. The data collected by DXS will help scientists better understand stellar evolution. Crewmate Greg Harbaugh and Runco also became the 47th and 48th Americans to walk in space during a 4.5-hour space walk designed to evaluate the limits of human performance during extravehicular activities (EVA). The flight also conducted several medical and scientific experiments. Included in these were investigations to better understand the human immune system's response to cancer. The crew also demonstrated the physics principles of everyday toys to an interactive audience of elementary school students across the United States. Mission duration was 5 days, 23 hours and 38 minutes.

Runco most recently served as a mission specialist on the crew of STS-77 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour (May 19-29, 1996. STS-77 carried a number of technology development experiments as well as a suite of microgravity science experiments. The technology development experiments included two deployable satellites both of which were deployed by Runco. For the deploy of the Spartan/Inflatable Antenna Experiment Runco was the Remote Manipulator System operator. The other deployable was a small Satellite Test Unit (STU) which would use residual atmospheric drag and the Earth's magnetic field for attitude stabilization. STS-77 also featured the fourth flight of a SpaceHab module as an experiment laboratory. Mission duration was 10 days and 39 minutes.

Runco is currently assigned to the Payloads and Habitability Branch of the Astronaut Office to work payloads and habitbility issues for both Space Shuttle and International Space Station operations.


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Last update 3 May 2001.
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