James Adamson is a former NASA astronaut and retired colonel of the United States Army. He was born James Craig Adamson on March 3, 1946 in Warsaw, New York. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from West Point and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army in 1969. In 1977, he completed a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University. Following completion of his Masters Degree, he became Assistant Professor of Aerodynamics at the United States Military Academy at West Point. While there, he developed and taught courses in Fluid Mechanics, Aerodynamics, Aircraft Performance, and Stability and Control, as well as developed flight laboratories in aircraft flight testing. As an additional component to his education, Adamson has completed undergraduate and graduate pilot training, Arctic water and mountain survival training, nuclear weapons training, basic and advanced officer training, and the U. S. Navy Test Pilot School. Adamson flew research aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, Princeton University, West Point, Patuxent Naval Air Station, and NASA Houston. During the Vietnam War, he flew in Cambodia with the Air Cavalry as well as in the IV Corps area. He has also flown with several peacetime flight units in Texas and New York. Adamson is an Experimental Test Pilot and Master Aviator, a Certified Professional Engineer, and a licensed Commercial Pilot.
Adamson was employed at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center from 1981 to 1992. During the Operational Flight Test phase of the Shuttle Program, he served in Mission Control as a research test pilot and aerodynamics officer. After he finished the operational test flights, he became Guidance Navigation and Control Officer for seven Shuttle Missions.
In 1984, NASA chose Adamson as an Astronaut, and he immediately qualified for mission assignment on Space Shuttle flights. In November 1985, he was selected to the crew of a Department of Defense mission, and held a management position within NASA during its delay. In February 1988, Adamson was assigned to the flight crew of STS-28 aboard Columbia. They launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on August 8, 1989. The spacecraft carried classified Department of Defense freight and many secondary shipments. After five days Columbia landed on Runway 17 at Edwards Air Force Base. Following the mission, Adamson once again returned to management until October 1990, when he was assigned to the flight crew of STS-43. He was aboard Atlantis and launched from the Kennedy Space Center on August 2, 1991. They set a new world record for payload weight lifted to orbit, and while in space the crew deployed a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite and conducted 32 physical and life sciences experiments. After 142 earth orbits, the mission ended with a landing at the Kennedy Space Center on August 11, 1991.
In June 1992, Adamson retired from government service; however, he remained a management consultant to NASA and the aerospace industry and served on the NASA Advisory Council. In September 1994, Adamson joined Lockheed Corporation as Executive Vice President of Lockheed Engineering and Science Company. He was soon promoted to CEO, and in 1995 he started as COO for the United Space Alliance, which is a joint venture with Rockwell International Corporation. He kept this position until 1999, when he was recruited by AlliedSignal Corporation to be the President of Allied Signal Technical Services Corporation. He remained with the company until his retirement in March 2001.
Currently, Adamson is still actively working as a consultant and board member for the aerospace industry and still serves on the NASA Advisory Council. He was recently accepted into the Aviators Hall of Fame, and received the George S. Patton award. He has also received numerous honors, including the Distinguished Flying Cross twice, 18 air medals, 3 Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for valor, the Bronze Star, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 2 NASA Space Flight Medals, and many more honors and awards. He currently resides in Fishersville, Virginia with his wife Ellen and two of his three children.