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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 17:20 EDT

Roy Bridges is an American aviator, a retired U.S Air Force officer, and a former NASA astronaut. He was born Roy Dubard Bridges, Jr. on July 19, 1943 in Atlanta, Georgia. As a child, he was active in the Boy Scouts of America and achieved its second highest rank, Life Scout. He graduated from Gainesville High School, Georgia in 1961. He then went on to attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in 1965. One year later, he earned a Master of Science degree in astronautics from Purdue University in Indiana in 1966.

After graduating from Purdue, he completed pilot training at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona. Then, in 1967, he was assigned to the 524th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Clovis Air Force Base in New Mexico as an F-100 pilot. During 1968, he flew 226 combat missions with the F-100 in the Republic of Vietnam. One year later, Bridges returned to the United States and was assigned as a pilot instructor at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. In 1970, he attended the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, and after his graduation, he remained at Edwards for an assignment as test pilot with the Air Force Flight Test Center. In 1975, he entered the Air Command and Staff College and afterward went to work for the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development at the Pentagon. There he participated in development and acquisition programs for F-15 and A-10 aircrafts and assisted the Deputy Chief of Staff. In total, Bridges has logged more than 3,800 hours flying time in many U.S. aircrafts.

In May 1980, Bridges was selected as a NASA astronaut candidate, and successfully completed a 1-year training and evaluation period. His first assignments were as a backup entry spacecraft communicator for STS-4-7. His first flight to space was on the Spacelab-2 mission, which launched aboard Shuttle Challenger from Kennedy Space Center on July 29, 1985. The mission was the first pallet-only Spacelab mission and the first mission to operate the Spacelab Instrument Pointing System. On August 6, 1985, after 126 orbits of the Earth, the mission landed successfully.

After his space flight, Bridges served as the director of requirements, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. As director, he was responsible for managing NASA’s processing and launch site of the Space Shuttle vehicle. He oversaw expendable vehicle launches carrying NASA payloads as well as managed a team of about 2,000 NASA civil servants and about 14,000 contractors. He retired from this position on July 1, 1996.

Bridges is currently an executive with Northrop Grumman Technical Services. He lives in Williamsburg, Virginia with his wife Benita Louise. Together, they have two adult children.

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