Created By The Mercury 7 Astronauts
Owen K. Garriott exercised his expertise as a solar physicist on two space missions, the 59-day Skylab 3 flight in 1973, and an 11-day trip aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia a decade later.
He was born November 22, 1930, in Enid, Oklahoma. He received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1953 and a Master of Science and Doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1957 and 1960.
Following graduation from Oklahoma, Garriott served as an electronics officer aboard several destroyers while on active duty with the U.S. Navy from 1953 to 1956. From 1961 until 1965, he taught electronics, electromagnetic theory and ionospheric physics as an associate professor at Stanford. NASA selected him in his first group of scientist-astronauts in 1965 and he completed flight training a year later.
His first space flight assignment was as Science Pilot for the second manned Skylab mission, Skylab 3. With him when the Apollo ferry ship lifted off on July 28, 1973, were Commander Alan Bean and Command Module pilot Jack Lousma. They entered the huge laboratory and settled in for a lengthy 59 days of experiments. On the 10th day, Garriott and Lousma took a space walk to replace film in an external space telescope and to erect a second sun shade over the area of the station where a protective heat shield had ripped away during launch. The first Skylab crew had raised one shade to cool down the lab, but it had begun to deteriorate. Two more space walks were conducted later, one by Garriott and Lousma and one by Bean and Garriott. Both times the telescope film was changed, and on the second, a new set of gyroscopes was installed to keep the station on an even keel. Otherwise, the astronauts busied themselves with Earth resources, solar astronomy, metals processing and other experiments. Garriott, a solar physicist, had the time of his life observing the sun through the telescope at a time when surface flares were very active.
Garriott returned to space November 28, 1983, aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, which carried for the first time in its cargo bay the 23-foot-long Spacelab, a cylindrical laboratory built by the European Space Agency. The six astronauts worked in round-the-clock shifts, with Garriott serving on one team with Pilot Brewster Shaw and biomedical engineer Byron Lichtenberg. The other team consisted of Commander John Young, astronomer Robert Parker and Ulf Merbold, a West German physicist. They conducted medical, astronomy, Earth survey, atmospheric and materials processing experiments. With all going well, NASA extended the planned 10-day mission by a day to gather more data.
Garriott then served as assistant director for space science at Johnson Space Center before leaving NASA. He currently is vice president of Space Programs, Teledyne Brown Engineering, Huntsville, Alabama. Garriott serves on the Board of Directors of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
Owen Garriott was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on October 4, 1997.