Henry Hartsfield is a retired United States Air Force officer and a former NASA astronaut. He was born Henry Warren “Hank” Hartsfield, Jr. on November 21, 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama where he was raised. He graduated from West End High School and went on to attend Auburn University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics in 1954 and received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Program. He joined the Air Force a year after his graduation and was assigned to the 53rd Tactical Fighter Squadron in Bitburg, Germany. He graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California and then proceeded to serve as an instructor there until being assigned to the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory program in 1966. However, the MOL was cancelled in June 1969. He completed graduate work in physics at Duke University and in astronautics at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and was awarded a Master of Science degree in engineering science from the University of Tennessee in 1971. Hartsfield retired from the USAF in August 1977 after more than 22 years of active service.
In September 1969, Hartsfield became a NASA astronaut. He was a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 16 and for the Skylab 2, 3, and 4 missions. His first flight to space was as the pilot on STS-4 along with fellow astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly. The two were launched aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on June 27, 1982 for a week long mission. During their time in space, the crew evaluated ascent and entry phases of shuttle missions and studied the effects of long-term thermal extremes on the Orbiter subsystems and conducted a survey of Orbiter-induced contamination on the orbiter payload bay. After 112 orbits of the earth, STS-4 ended by landing on a concrete runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on July 4, 1982. His second mission was as spacecraft commander aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-41-D, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on August 30, 1984 after three delays. During the mission, the crew successfully started the OAST-1 solar cell wing experiment, sent out three satellites (SBS-D, SYNCOM IV-2, and TELSTAR 3-C), and managed the CFES-III experiment. After 96 orbits of the earth, the mission ended by landing at Edwards Air Force Base on September 5, 1984. On his third flight, Hartsfield was spacecraft commander of STS-61-A, which launched aboard Space Shuttle Challenger on October 30, 1985. It was a West German D-1 Spacelab mission and was the first to carry eight crew members to space, as well as the first where payload activities were controlled from outside the United States. More than 75 scientific experiments were completed, and then the mission ended on November 6, 1985 after completing 111 orbits of the Earth.
Hartsfield served as the Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office from 1986 to 1987, when he became the Deputy Director for Flight Crew Operations. In 1989, he accepted a temporary assignment as Director of the Technical Integration and Analysis Division in the Office of Space Flight at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The following year, in 1990, Hartsfield accepted another temporary assignment, this time as the Deputy Manager for Operations in Space Station Projects Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. In 1991, he accepted a new position as the Man-Tended Capability Phase Manager with a duty station at the Johnson Space Center. He reported to and represented the Deputy Director in providing guidance and direction to the Space Shuttle Program.
In December 1993, Hartsfield became the manager of the International Space Station Independent Assessment activities and activities. He eventually expanded his work to include independent assessment of the programs and projects of the Human Exploration and Development of Space Enterprise. In 1998, Hartsfield retired from NASA and joined the executive ranks of Raytheon Company, where he remained until 2005. He presently continues his assignment as a NASA astronaut in a civilian capacity and is happily married to former Judy Frances Massey with two daughters.
Image Caption: Official NASA Portrait of Hank Hartsfield. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia