Created By The Mercury 7 Astronauts
Three-time space shuttle astronaut Kevin P. Chilton (Gen. USAF, Ret.) has logged more than 704 hours in space. He has served as the pilot on STS-49 and STS-59, and as the commander of STS-79.
In 1992 Chilton launched aboard STS-49, the maiden voyage of Space Shuttle Endeavour. During the mission, the crew performed a record four extra vehicular activities (EVAs) to retrieve, repair and deploy the International Telecommunications Satellite (INTELSAT), as well as to demonstrate and evaluate numerous EVA tasks to be used for the assembly of Space Station Freedom, the proposed orbiting laboratory that served as the forerunner for the International Space Station. After 213 hours in space and 141 Earth orbits, Endeavour made its first landing at Edwards Air Force Base where the crew conducted the first test of the orbiter’s drag chute.
A later mission, STS-59, spent 11 days in space and added more than 269 hours and 183 orbits to Gen. Chilton’s totals. Chilton served on STS-59 as the pilot, and this mission featured the deployment of the Space Radar Laboratory (SRL). SRL consisted of three large radars and a carbon monoxide sensor that were used to study the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.
In 1996, Chilton commanded STS-76, which featured the third docking mission to the Russian space station Mir. Following rendezvous and docking, the transfer of a NASA astronaut to Mir for a five-month stay was accomplished to begin a continuous presence of U.S. astronauts aboard Mir for the next two years. This mission also featured the first spacewalk from the space shuttle while docked to Mir, and it featured the first flight of Kidsat, an electronic camera controlled by classroom students via a Ku-band link between Johnson Space Center Mission Control and the space shuttle.
After an 11-year career with NASA, Chilton returned to the Air Force, serving on the Air Force Space Command Staff, the Air Staff, the Joint Staff, and commanding the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, 8th Air Force, Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike and Air Force Command. Chilton has most recently served as Commander, United States Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, a position in which he was responsible for the global command and control of U.S. strategic forces to meet decisive national security objectives. Chilton retired from the Air Force on February 1, 2011, having earned his fourth star – achieving the rank of General.
Chilton was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 5, 2012.