George Nelson (astronaut)

George Nelson (astronaut)

Infobox Astronaut
name =George Driver "Pinky" Nelson

type =Astronaut
nationality =American
date_birth =July 13, 1950
place_birth =Charles City, Iowa
occupation =Physicist
selection =1978 NASA Group
time =17d 02h 43m
mission =STS-41-C, STS-61-C, STS-26
insignia =|

George Driver "Pinky" Nelson (born July 13, 1950) is a former NASA astronaut.

Nelson was born in Charles City, Iowa, but considers Willmar, Minnesota, to be his hometown. His wife Susie is from Alhambra, California. They have two daughters. Nelson enjoys playing golf, reading, swimming, running, and music.


Nelson graduated from Willmar Senior High School, Willmar, Minnesota, in 1968. He received a B.S. degree in Physics from Harvey Mudd College in 1972 and a M.S. and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Washington in 1974 and 1978, respectively.

pecial honors

NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 3 NASA Space Flight Medals, AIAA Haley Space Flight Award, Federation Aeronautique Internationale's V. M. Komarov Diploma.


Dr. Nelson performed astronomical research at the Sacramento Peak Solar Observatory, Sunspot, New Mexico; the Astronomical Institute at Utrecht (Utrecht, the Netherlands) and the University of Göttingen Observatory, (Göttingen, West Germany), and at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (Boulder, Colorado).

NASA career

George was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. He flew as a scientific equipment operator in the WB 57-F earth resources aircraft and served as the Astronaut Office representative in the Space Shuttle Extravehicular Mobility Unit (space suit) development effort. During STS-1 he was the photographer in the prime chase plane. He also served as support crewman and CAPCOM for the last two OFT flights, STS-3 and STS-4, and as head of the Astronaut Office Mission Development Group. A veteran of three space flights, Nelson served aboard STS-41-C in 1984, STS-61C in 1986 and STS-26 in 1988. He has logged a total of 411 hours in space, including 10 hours of EVA flight time.

STS-41C Challenger

This was a seven-day (April 6April 13, 1984) mission during which the crew successfully deployed the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF), retrieved the ailing Solar Maximum satellite, repaired it on-board the Orbiter, and replaced it in orbit. The mission also included flight testing of Manned Maneuvering Units (MMUs) in two extravehicular activities (EVAs), and operation of the Cinema 360 and IMAX Camera Systems.

STS-61C Columbia

This mission, from January 12January 18, 1986, launched from the Kennedy Space Center and returned to a night landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California. During the six-day flight, the crew deployed the SATCOM KU satellite and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing.

STS-26 Discovery

This mission (September 29October 3, 1988) was the first flown after the Challenger accident. During the four-day flight, the crew successfully deployed the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-C) and operated eleven mid-deck science experiments.


Nelson left NASA in 1989 and now directs the Science, Mathematics and Technology Education program at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

External links

* [ NASA biography]

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