Norman Thagard
Overview
 
Norman Earl Thagard is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 scientist and former NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 astronaut
Astronaut
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

. He is the first American to ride to space on board a Russian vehicle, and can be considered the first American cosmonaut. He did this on March 14, 1995 in the Soyuz TM-21
Soyuz TM-21
Soyuz TM-21 was Soyuz mission, a human spaceflight mission transporting personnel to the Russian space station Mir. Part of the US/Russian Shuttle-Mir Program, the mission launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, atop a Soyuz-U2 carrier rocket, at 06:11:34 UTC on March 14, 1995...

 spacecraft for the Russian Mir-18 mission.
Thagard was born in Marianna, Florida
Marianna, Florida
Marianna is a city in Jackson County, Florida, United States. The population was 6,230 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau is 6,200 . It is the county seat of Jackson County and is home to Chipola College...

, but considers Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida in terms of both population and land area, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968...

, to be his hometown.
Encyclopedia
Norman Earl Thagard is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 scientist and former NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 astronaut
Astronaut
An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft....

. He is the first American to ride to space on board a Russian vehicle, and can be considered the first American cosmonaut. He did this on March 14, 1995 in the Soyuz TM-21
Soyuz TM-21
Soyuz TM-21 was Soyuz mission, a human spaceflight mission transporting personnel to the Russian space station Mir. Part of the US/Russian Shuttle-Mir Program, the mission launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, atop a Soyuz-U2 carrier rocket, at 06:11:34 UTC on March 14, 1995...

 spacecraft for the Russian Mir-18 mission.

Early life

Thagard was born in Marianna, Florida
Marianna, Florida
Marianna is a city in Jackson County, Florida, United States. The population was 6,230 at the 2000 census. As of 2004, the population estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau is 6,200 . It is the county seat of Jackson County and is home to Chipola College...

, but considers Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida in terms of both population and land area, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968...

, to be his hometown. He is married to the former Rex Kirby Johnson of South Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. They have three sons. During his free time, he enjoys classical music, and electronic design. Thagard has published articles on digital and analog electronic design. His father, Mr. James E. Thagard, and his mother, Mrs. Mary F. Key, are both deceased.

Education

  • 1961: Graduated from Paxon Senior High School, Jacksonville, Florida
  • 1965: Received a bachelor of science degree in engineering science from Florida State University
    Florida State University
    The Florida State University is a space-grant and sea-grant public university located in Tallahassee, Florida, United States. It is a comprehensive doctoral research university with medical programs and significant research activity as determined by the Carnegie Foundation...

  • 1966: Received a master of science degrees in engineering science from Florida State University
  • Performed pre-med course work at Florida State University
  • 1977: Received a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School at Dallas
  • 2007: Received a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Florida
    University of Florida
    The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...

    .

Organizations

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is the professional society for the field of aerospace engineering. The AIAA was founded in 1963 from the merger of two earlier societies: the American Rocket Society , founded in 1930 as the American Interplanetary Society , and the Institute...

  • Aerospace Medical Association
    Aerospace Medical Association
    The Aerospace Medical Association is the largest professional organization in the fields of aviation, space, and environmental medicine. The AsMA membership includes aerospace and hyperbaric medicine specialists, scientists, flight nurses, physiologists, and researchers from all over the world.-...

  • Phi Kappa Phi
    Phi Kappa Phi
    The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is an honor society established 1897 to recognize and encourage superior scholarship without restriction as to area of study and to promote the "unity and democracy of education"...

  • Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra
    Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra
    The Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1979, with Nicholas Harsanyi as director. Harsanyi was a noted violist and a student of Béla Bartók, who later even played chamber music with Albert Einstein at Princeton. After Nicholas Harsanyi's death, the baton was handed on to several guest...


Awards and honors

  • Inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame
    Astronaut Hall of Fame
    The United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, located just south of Titusville, Florida, honors American astronauts and features the world's largest collection of their personal memorabilia, focusing on those astronauts who have been inducted into the Hall; as well as Sigma 7, the fifth manned Mercury...

     (2004)
  • Who's Who In America; Who's Who In Science and Engineering
  • Erskine Visiting Fellow, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, N.Z., (2001)
  • Designated Honorary Conch and Citizen of the Florida Keys (2000)
  • Participated in the 1998 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California on an award-winning float ("Best Animation")
  • Admitted to FSU's Circle of Gold Honorary Society (1998)
  • A small portion of Jacksonville, Florida's 5th Street, in front of his alma mater, Paxon High School, re-named "Norman E. Thagard" Blvd (1998)
  • Recognized in Guinness Book of Records for setting U.S. human space flight records (1997)
  • The Society of NASA Flight Surgeons' 1997 W. Randolph Lovelace Award
  • Recipient of Russia's Order of Friendship
    Order of Friendship
    The Order of Friendship is a state decoration of Russia established by decree # 442 of March 2, 1994 of the President of the Russian Federation....

    , presented personally by Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin (1996)
  • Named as one of NASA's 15 "Superstars of Space Flight" (1996)
  • Inducted into New Mexico's International Space Hall of Fame (1996)
  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' 1996 Jeffries Medical Research Award
  • Aerospace Medical Association's 1996 Hubertus Strughold Award for Space Medicine
  • At the request of the Smithsonian Institution, his Russian "SOKOL" space suit was donated to the National Air & Space Museum (1996)
  • Henry G. Armstrong Lecturer in Aerospace Medicine (1996)
  • Florida Senate Commendation Resolution (1996)
  • City of Tallahassee Commendation Proclamation (1995 and 2004)
  • Aviation Week & Space Technology's 1995 Laurels Award
  • American Astronautical Society's 1983 and 1995 Melbourne W. Boynton Award
  • Florida State University's "Grad Made Good" award (1983) and Wescott Medal (1995)
  • Designated by the Commandant of the Marine Corps an honorary Naval Astronaut Pilot (1992)
  • Florida State University
    Florida State University
    The Florida State University is a space-grant and sea-grant public university located in Tallahassee, Florida, United States. It is a comprehensive doctoral research university with medical programs and significant research activity as determined by the Carnegie Foundation...

    's student health center designated the "Thagard Student Health Center" by legislative act (1986)
  • NASA Space Flight Medal
    NASA Space Flight Medal
    The NASA Space Flight Medal is a decoration of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. According to its statutes, it is awarded "for significant achievement or service during individual participation as a civilian or military astronaut, pilot, mission specialist, payload specialist, or...

    s
  • NASA Distinguished Service Medal
    NASA Distinguished Service Medal
    The NASA Distinguished Service Medal is the highest award which may be bestowed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States...

  • NASA Sustained Superior Performance Award (twice)
  • Air Medal
    Air Medal
    The Air Medal is a military decoration of the United States. The award was created in 1942, and is awarded for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.-Criteria:...

    s (11)
  • The Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V"
  • The Marine Corps "E" Award
  • The Vietnam Service Medal
    Vietnam Service Medal
    The Vietnam Service Medal is a military award which was created in 1965 by order of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The distinctive design was the creation of sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, a former employee of the Army Institute of Heraldry. The medal is issued to recognize military service during...

  • The Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm

Experience

Thagard held a number of research and teaching posts while completing the academic requirements for various earned degrees.

In September 1966 he entered active duty
Active duty
Active duty refers to a full-time occupation as part of a military force, as opposed to reserve duty.-Pakistan:The Pakistan Armed Forces are one of the largest active service forces in the world with almost 610,000 full time personnel due to the complex and volatile nature of Pakistan's...

 with the United States Marine Corps Reserve
United States Marine Corps Reserve
The Marine Forces Reserve is the reserve force of the United States Marine Corps. It is the largest command in the U.S...

. He achieved the rank of Captain in 1967, was designated a naval aviator in 1968, and was subsequently assigned to duty flying F-4 Phantom II
F-4 Phantom II
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable,...

s with VMFA-333
VMFA-333
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 333 was a United States Marine Corps fighter squadron consisting of F/A-18 Hornets . Known as the "Fighting Shamrocks" and “Trip Trey”, the squadron participated in action during World War II, the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm The squadron’s aircraft were...

 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort or MCAS Beaufort is a United States Marine Corps air base located three miles northwest of the central business district of Beaufort, a city in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States...

, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. He flew 163 combat missions in Vietnam while assigned to VMFA-115
VMFA-115
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 is a United States Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet squadron. Officially nicknamed the "Silver Eagles" and on occasion Joe's Jokers after their first commanding officer Major Joe Foss, the squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina and falls...

 from January 1969 to 1970. He returned to the United States and an assignment as aviation weapons division officer with VMFA-251
VMFA-251
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 is a United States Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet squadron. Also known as the "Thunderbolts", the squadron is based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina and falls under the command of Marine Aircraft Group 31 and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing...

 at the Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina.

Thagard resumed his academic studies in 1971, pursuing additional studies in electrical engineering
Electrical engineering
Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. The field first became an identifiable occupation in the late nineteenth century after commercialization of the electric telegraph and electrical...

, and a degree in medicine; prior to coming to NASA, he was interning in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. He is a licensed physician.

He is a pilot and has logged over 2,200 hours flying time of which the majority was in jet aircraft.

NASA career

Thagard was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. In August 1979, he completed a one-year training and evaluation period, making him eligible for assignment as a mission specialist on future Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 flights. A veteran of five space flights, he logged over 140 days in space. He was a mission specialist on STS-7
STS-7
STS-7 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission, during which Space Shuttle Challenger deployed several satellites into orbit. The shuttle launched from Kennedy Space Center on 18 June 1983, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base on 24 June. STS-7 was the seventh shuttle mission, and was Challengers second...

 in 1983, STS-51-B
STS-51-B
STS 51-B was the seventeenth flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program, and the seventh flight of Space Shuttle Challenger. The launch of Challenger on 29 April 1985 was delayed by 2 minutes and 18 seconds, due to a launch processing failure. Challenger was initially rolled out to the pad to launch on...

 in 1985, STS-30
STS-30
STS-30 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission, during which Space Shuttle Atlantis deployed the Venus-bound Magellan probe into orbit. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 4 May 1989, and landed four days later...

 in 1989, was the payload commander on STS-42
STS-42
STS-42 was a Space Shuttle Discovery mission with the Spacelab module. Liftoff which was originally scheduled for 8:45 EST 22 January 1992, but the launch was delayed due to weather constraints. Discovery successfully lifted off an hour later at 9:52 EST . The main goal of the mission was to study...

 in 1992, and was the cosmonaut/researcher on the Russian Mir-18 mission in 1995.

Thagard first flew on the crew of STS-7, which launched from Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on hiatus, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program...

, Florida, on June 18, 1983. This was the second flight for the Orbiter Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger
Space Shuttle Challenger was NASA's second Space Shuttle orbiter to be put into service, Columbia having been the first. The shuttle was built by Rockwell International's Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California...

and the first mission with a crew of five persons. During the mission, the STS-7 crew deployed satellites for Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 (ANIK C-2) and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 (Palapa B1); operated the Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System (RMS) to perform the first deployment and retrieval exercise with the Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS-01); conducted the first formation flying of the Orbiter with a free-flying satellite (SPAS-01); carried and operated the first U.S./German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 cooperative materials science payload (OSTA-2); and operated the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES) and the Monodisperse Latex Reactor (MLR) experiments, in addition to activating seven "Getaway Specials." During the flight Dr. Thagard conducted various medical tests and collected data on physiological changes associated with astronaut adaptation to space. He also retrieved the rotating SPAS-01 using the RMS. Mission duration was 147 hours before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on June 24, 1983.

Thagard then flew on STS-51-B
STS-51-B
STS 51-B was the seventeenth flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program, and the seventh flight of Space Shuttle Challenger. The launch of Challenger on 29 April 1985 was delayed by 2 minutes and 18 seconds, due to a launch processing failure. Challenger was initially rolled out to the pad to launch on...

, the Spacelab-3 science mission, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 29, 1985, aboard the Challenger. He assisted the commander and pilot on ascent and entry. Mission duration was 168 hours. Duties on orbit included satellite deployment operation with the NUSAT satellite as well as animal care for the 24 rats and two squirrel monkeys contained in the Research Animal Holding Facility (RAHF). Other duties were operation of the Geophysical Fluid Flow Cell (GFFC), Urinary Monitoring System (UMS), and the Ionization States of Solar and Galactic Cosmic Ray Heavy Nuclei (IONS) experiment. After 110 orbits of the Earth, Challenger landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on May 6, 1985.

He next served on the crew of STS-30
STS-30
STS-30 was a NASA Space Shuttle mission, during which Space Shuttle Atlantis deployed the Venus-bound Magellan probe into orbit. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on 4 May 1989, and landed four days later...

, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on May 4, 1989, aboard the Orbiter Atlantis
Space Shuttle Atlantis
The Space Shuttle Atlantis is a retired Space Shuttle orbiter in the Space Shuttle fleet belonging to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration , the spaceflight and space exploration agency of the United States...

. During this four-day mission, crew members successfully deployed the Magellan Venus-exploration spacecraft
Magellan probe
The Magellan spacecraft, also referred to as the Venus Radar Mapper, was a 1,035-kilogram robotic space probe launched by NASA on May 4, 1989, to map the surface of Venus using Synthetic Aperture Radar and measure the planetary gravity...

, the first U.S. planetary science mission launched since 1978, and the first planetary probe to be deployed from the Shuttle. Magellan arrived at Venus in mid-1990 and mapped the entire surface of Venus using specialized radar instruments. In addition, crew members also worked on secondary payloads involving fluid research in general, chemistry and electrical storm studies. Mission duration was 97 hours. Following 64 orbits of the Earth, the STS-30 mission concluded with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on May 8, 1989.

Thagard served as payload commander on STS-42
STS-42
STS-42 was a Space Shuttle Discovery mission with the Spacelab module. Liftoff which was originally scheduled for 8:45 EST 22 January 1992, but the launch was delayed due to weather constraints. Discovery successfully lifted off an hour later at 9:52 EST . The main goal of the mission was to study...

, aboard the Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery is one of the retired orbiters of the Space Shuttle program of NASA, the space agency of the United States, and was operational from its maiden flight, STS-41-D on August 30, 1984, until its final landing during STS-133 on March 9, 2011...

, which lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on January 22, 1992. Fifty five major experiments conducted in the International Microgravity Laboratory-1 module were provided by investigators from eleven countries, and represented a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines. During 128 orbits of the Earth, the STS-42
STS-42
STS-42 was a Space Shuttle Discovery mission with the Spacelab module. Liftoff which was originally scheduled for 8:45 EST 22 January 1992, but the launch was delayed due to weather constraints. Discovery successfully lifted off an hour later at 9:52 EST . The main goal of the mission was to study...

 crew accomplished the mission's primary objective of investigating the effects of microgravity on materials processing and life sciences. In this unique laboratory in space, crew members worked around-the-clock in two shifts. Experiments investigated the microgravity effects on the growth of protein and semiconductor crystals. Biological experiments on the effects of zero gravity on plants, tissues, bacteria, insects and human vestibular response were also conducted. This eight-day mission culminated in a landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on January 30, 1992.

On his last mission, Thagard was a crew member for the Russian Mir 18 mission. Twenty eight experiments were conducted in the course of the 115 day flight. Liftoff was from the Baikonur Cosmodrome
Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Baikonur Cosmodrome , also called Tyuratam, is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It is located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, about east of the Aral Sea, north of the Syr Darya river, near Tyuratam railway station, at 90 meters above sea level...

 in Kazakstan on March 14, 1995. The mission culminated in a landing at the Kennedy Space Center in the Space Shuttle Atlantis on July 7, 1995.

Current activities and positions

  • Tenured Professor at the FAMU - FSU College of Engineering.
  • Co-founder and Executive Director, Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee, with shuttle/mission control/space station simulators, digital space theater/planetarium and IMAX
    IMAX
    IMAX is a motion picture film format and a set of proprietary cinema projection standards created by the Canadian company IMAX Corporation. IMAX has the capacity to record and display images of far greater size and resolution than conventional film systems...

    theater.
  • Member of the Board of Directors of EMS Technologies, Inc. EMS is an Atlanta-based communications company.
  • Member, Editorial Review Board of the Journal of the Society for Human Performance in Extreme Environments.
  • Distinguished Lecturer for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
  • He is an aerospace consultant and was technical advisor for "Virus," a movie starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland and for "Armageddon" starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler.
  • Advisor for Space Adventures, Ltd., a company offering aerospace experiences, including orbital flight.
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