Sid Gutierrez is a former NASA astronaut. He was born Sidney McNeill “Sid” Gutierrez on June 27, 1951 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He graduated from Valley High School in Albuquerque in 1969. He then went on to attend the United States Air Force Academy, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1973. Upon his graduation, he reported to Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas and completed Undergraduate Pilot Training. He stayed there as a T-38 instructor pilot while he studied at Webster University and eventually earned a Master of Arts degree in management in 1977. The following year he was assigned to the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where he flew the F-15 Eagle.
In 1981, Gutierrez attended the USAF Test Pilot School and after he graduated, he was assigned to the F-16 Falcon Combined Test Force and served as primary test pilot for airframe and propulsion testing on the aircraft. In May 1984, Gutierrez was selected as a NASA candidate, and became an astronaut in June 1985. His first technical assignment was as commander for the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory. He flew simulated missions to test the software. In 1986 and 1987, he helped to recertify the Space Shuttle Main Engines, Main Propulsion System, and External Tank. In 1988, he became the Astronaut Office lead for Shuttle development; and in 1989, he supported launches of STS-28, 30, 32, 33 and 34 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Gutierrez’s first flight to space was as the pilot on STS-40 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center on June 5, 1991. It was a dedicated space and life sciences mission during which the crew performed experiments learning how humans, animals, and cells respond and adapt to microgravity. After 146 orbits of the Earth, the mission ended with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base on June 14, 1991. Following his return, Gutierrez served as spacecraft communicator for STS-42, 45, 46, 49 and 52. In 1992 he became the Astronaut Office Branch Chief for Operations Development and remained there until his next flight. His second flight to space was as commander of 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.
In September 1994, Gutierrez retired from the U.S. Air Force and NASA and subsequently moved back to New Mexico. There he joined Sandia National Laboratories. He initially served as Manager for their Strategic Initiatives Department, but in March 1995 he became Manager of the Airborne Sensors and Integration Department in the Exploratory Systems Development Center. He also worked as Chairman of the Governor’s Technical Excellence Committee Spaceport Task Force. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Texas-New Mexico Power Company and Goodwill Industries of New Mexico, and is a member of the New Mexico Space Center’s Governor’s Commission.
Image Caption: Official portrait of Astronaut Sidney M. Gutierrez wearing a blue flight suit. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia