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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Kenneth Ham

Kenneth Ham is a retired American astronaut and a Captain in the United States Navy. He is married to the former Michelle Lucas of Hobart, Indiana, and has two children. He was born Kenneth “Hock” Todd Ham on December 12, 1964 in Plainfield, New Jersey. His high school guidance counselor suggested that he take flying lessons while attending high school at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, New Jersey; so after his 1983 graduation he went directly to the United States Naval Academy already equipped with flight experience. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in May 1987 and immediately earned his commission in the US Navy. After training in the T-34C, T-2C, and TA-4J aircrafts and becoming a Naval Aviator in October 1989, Ham received F/A-18 Hornet training so he could work on assignments with VFA-132 and VFA-105 fighter squadrons. In 1996, Ham earned a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School after participating in a cooperative program where he studied aeronautical engineering for 18 months and subsequently received 12 months of test pilot training. As a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, he was chosen as one of five Navy pilots on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Integrated Test Team, making him responsible for developing a new fleet aircraft. He was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea twice, during which he conducted combat missions over Bosnia and North Iraq as an air wing strike leader, F/A-18 demonstration pilot, and night vision goggle instructor.

In August 1998, Ham was chosen to be a NASA astronaut. After his training, he served as CAPCOM for various Space Shuttle missions, as well as for the International Space Station. His most recent CAPCOM assignment was for NASA’s “return to flight” mission, STS-114, of the Space Shuttle. Ham’s first flight to space was aboard Space Shuttle Discovery as the pilot of STS-124. The mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center on May 31, 2008 and docked with the International Space Station on June 2 to deliver the Japanese Experiment Module Pressurized Module and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System. They also moved the Logistics Module to the top of the JEM-PM. After three spacewalks and 218 orbits of the Earth, the mission ended on June 14, 2008. STS-132 was Ham’s second flight to space; this time as the commander. The crew launched aboard Shuttle Atlantis on May 14, 2010 as the 32nd Shuttle flight to the International Space Station. The flight docked with the ISS on May 16 to deliver an Integrated Cargo Carrier and a Russian-build Mini Research Module. Throughout the week they were docked, the crew performed three spacewalks and installed a spare antenna and a stowage platform, replaced batteries on the P6 Truss, and retrieved a power data grapple fixture for future installation. The mission ended successfully with a safe landing on May 26, 2010.

Image Caption: Official portrait image of NASA astronaut Kenneth Ham, pilot of STS-124. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia

Kenneth Ham