Linda Godwin is a private pilot, an American scientist, and a NASA astronaut. She was born Linda Maxine Godwin on July 2, 1952, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She was raised in Jackson, however, and graduated from Jackson High School in 1970. She then went to attend Southeast Missouri State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and physics in 1974. She then immediately went to graduate school at the University of Missouri, where she earned a Master of Science degree in physics in 1976 and a Doctorate in physics in 1980. During that time, she taught undergraduate physics labs and conducted research in low temperature solid state physics. Her research has since been published in many journals.
In 1980, Godwin joined NASA and began working in payload integration in the Payload Operations Division. NASA selected her as an astronaut candidate in June 1985 and she became an astronaut the following year in July. Her technical assignments have included working with flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory and managing development activities for the Inertial Upper Stage, deployable payloads, and Spacelab missions. She has assumed many roles with NASA, including: Chief of Astronaut Appearances, Chief of the Mission Development Branch of the Astronaut Office, Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office, and Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations Directorate.
Godwin’s first mission to space was aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-37, which launched on April 5, 1991. The mission highlighted the deployment of the Gamma Ray Observatory, which was the heaviest payload deployed to date by the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System. After 143 hours in space, the mission landed at Edwards Air Force Base on April 11, 1991. Three years later, Godwin returned to space, this time on STS-59, which launched on April 9, 1994 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. The Space Radar Laboratory mission consisted of three large radars, Shuttle Imaging Radar C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar, and a carbon monoxide sensor, which studied the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. The imaging radars functioned in three frequencies and four polarizations, which provided information about the Earth’s surface over many levels not previously understood. The mission ended after 183 orbits of the Earth with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base on April 20, 1994. Next, Godwin was a mission specialist on STS-76. The six man crew aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis launched on March 22, 1996 and headed for the Russian Space Station Mir. They docked with Mir to transfer a NASA Astronaut, as well as to transport 4800 pounds of science and mission hardware, food, water and air to the station and return over 1100 pounds of U.S. and ESA science and Russian hardware. The mission was also the first flight of Kidsat, an electronic camera controlled by classroom students via a Ku-bank link between JSC Mission Control and the Shuttle. After 145 orbits of the Earth, Atlantis landed at Edwards Air Force Base on March 31, 1996.
Godwin’s final flight to space was aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-108. The mission launched on December 5, 2001 as the 12th shuttle flight to visit the International Space Station. They swapped the Expedition 3 and 4 crews and delivered several tons of supplies, logistics and science experiments from the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module and repacked tons of things that the ISS did not need anymore. Godwin performed a spacewalk, and after 185 orbits of the Earth, the mission ended with a landing on December 17, 2001. Godwin is married to fellow astronaut Steven Nagel. She currently serves as the Assistant to the Director for Exploration, Flight Crew Operations Directorate at the Johnson Space Center and is also a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Missouri. She is a member of the American Physical Society, the Association of Space Explorers, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
Image Caption: Portrait astronaut Linda Godwin. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia