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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 6:43 EDT

Frederick Gregory

Frederick Gregory is a former NASA astronaut and retired USAF Colonel. He was born Frederick Drew Gregory on January 7, 1941 in Washington, D.C. and lived there throughout his childhood. He graduated from Anacostia High School in 1958 and went on to attend the United States Air Force Academy, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1964. During his time with the Air Force, he was honored with many awards, including the Presidential Rank Award, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Air Force Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, 16 Air Medals, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

Over a decade later, he returned to school and in 1977 he received a Master’s degree in information systems from George Washington University. A year later, in January 1978, Gregory was selected as a NASA astronaut. He was initially an Astronaut Office representative at the Kennedy Space Center during Orbiter checkout and launch support for STS-1 and STS-2. He also held the roles of Flight Data File Manager, lead spacecraft communicator, Chief of Operational Safety, and Chief of Astronaut Training.

Gregory’s first flight to space was as a pilot on STS-51B aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center on April 29, 1985. The mission lasted 168 hours, during which the crew sent out the Northern Utah Satellite and collected data on livestock in the Research Animal Holding Facility. The crew returned to Earth after 110 orbits on May 6, 1985. Gregory next served as spacecraft commander on the STS-33 mission, which launched the evening of November 22, 1989 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery. The crew carried Department of Defense payloads and other secondary freight. After 79 orbits of the Earth, the mission ended with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base on November 27, 1989. That mission made Gregory the first African-American to command a spaceflight. His final flight to space was again as spacecraft commander, this time aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on STS-44. The mission launched the evening of 24, 1991. The crew was able to send out the Defense Support Program satellite as well as work on a variety of secondary payloads. After 110 orbits of the Earth, the mission landed at Edwards Air Force Base on December 1, 1991.

Following STS-44, Gregory assumed the role of Associate Administrator for the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA Headquarters, where he remained until 2001. For a brief year, he was Associate Administrator for the Office of Space Flight. However, on August 12, 2002, Gregory was sworn in as NASA Deputy Administrator, where he would remain until 2005. For three months during this time, he also served as NASA Acting Administrator. On November 29, 2005, Shana Dale replaced him. He was married to the former Barbara Archer until her death in 2008, and they had two children together. He is now married to the former Annette Becke, and the two enjoy boating, hiking, biking and traveling.

Image Caption: Frederick D. Gregory. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia

Frederick Gregory