Created By The Mercury 7 Astronauts
Jerry L. Ross (Colonel, USAF, Ret.) was selected by NASA to become an astronaut in May 1980. He was the first human to be launched into space seven times. Ross logged more than 1,393 hours in space, including 58 hours and 18 minutes of time spent on EVA over a total of nine spacewalks. His seven-spaceflight total is a record he now shares with only one other astronaut, and his number of spacewalks – as well as the time spent on spacewalks – are both the second-highest among U.S. astronauts and third-highest among astronauts worldwide.
Ross first flew as a Mission Specialist on STS-61B, which launched on November 26, 1985, aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis. The crew deployed three communications satellites and performed numerous experiments. Ross conducted two spacewalks to evaluate potential space station construction techniques.
Ross returned to space as a Mission Specialist for STS-27. This U.S. Department of Defense mission launched aboard Atlantis on December 2, 1988. The crew deployed and activated a critical new national satellite system.
Ross boarded Atlantis again on April 5, 1991, launching into space on STS-37 with a goal of deploying the 35,000-pound Compton Gamma Ray Observatory. He performed an unplanned spacewalk to fix the $670 million observatory and another spacewalk to evaluate potential space station equipment.
The German-sponsored Spacelab D-2 mission, STS-55, launched aboard Columbia on April 26, 1993. Ross was the Payload Commander, leading the payload team that conducted nearly 90 experiments investigating life sciences, material sciences, physics, robotics, astronomy, the Earth, and the atmosphere.
STS-74, the second space shuttle mission to rendezvous and dock with the Mir space station, launched November 12, 1995. Ross and the crew of Atlantis were responsible for installing a permanent docking module on Mir for subsequent shuttle visits, as well as transferring supplies and equipment to the station.
Ross served on STS-88, the first International Space Station assembly mission. Endeavour launched on December 4, 1998 for a 12-day mission during which the crew attached the U.S. Unity module to the unmanned Russian Zarya module. Ross performed three spacewalks, connecting umbilicals and attaching antennas and other equipment to the exterior of these modules.
Ross returned to Atlantis for a fifth time on his seventh and final mission, STS-110, which launched on April 8, 2002. This mission was the first in the final phase of International Space Station assembly. Ross performed two of the mission’s four spacewalks to install the critical center section of the truss, the S-Zero element, to the station.
Ross served as Chief of the Vehicle Integration Test Office at Johnson Space Center from 2003 to 2011 before his retirement from NASA in 2012. He recently published an autobiography, entitled “Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer.” He will release a children’s book, “Spacewalker: My Journey to the Stars,” based upon this autobiography later in 2014.
Ross was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 2, 2014.