Jeffery Ashby is an engineer, a former American naval aviator and astronaut, a veteran of three space shuttle missions, and a retired Captain in the U.S. Navy. He was born Jeffrey Shears Ashby on June 16, 1954. He grew up in Evergreen, Colorado, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. He graduated from Evergreen High School in 1972, and then attended the University of Idaho, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering in 1976. Ten years later, he graduated from the Naval Fighter Weapons School and the Naval Test Pilot School. As a test pilot in the U.S. Navy, Ashby helped develop the F/A-18 aircraft and then flew it in combat missions as part of Operation Desert Storm and the Gulf War. As a result, Ashby was the Navy Attack Aviator of the Year in 1991.During this time he also went back to school to earn his Master of Science degree in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee, where he graduated in 1993. In 1994, Ashby’s squadron was designated the top F/A-18 squadron in the Navy. Throughout his Navy career, Ashby accumulated over 7,000 flight hours and 1,000 carrier landings.
In December 1994, Ashby was selected as an astronaut candidate. He piloted his first space shuttle mission STS-93 in July 1999 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. The main goal of this mission was to deploy the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which is the largest satellite the shuttle had ever launched. The mission was successful, as it has allowed scientists to study exotic phenomena such as exploding stars, quasars, and black holes. In April 2001, he flew his second mission, STS-100, aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on the 6th assembly flight of the International Space Station. During the mission, Ashby completed two spacewalks in order to activate the station’s robotic arm, which enabled it to be used for future tasks. He also operated the shuttle’s robotic arm to transfer Canadarm2 from the shuttle payload bay to the space station. He also captured some of the images seen in the IMAX-3D film “The International Space Station.” His most recent mission is STS-112 as mission commander of Space Shuttle Atlantis. It launched in October 2002 as the 9th assembly flight of the International Space Station. On the mission, the crew installed the 15-ton Integrated Truss Segment S1 to the starboard side of the space station. The crew also performed three space walks to turn on the truss and prepare for solar arrays. All three missions that Ashby commanded were successful.
Ashby is currently the Vice President of Business Development at Alliant Tech Systems Space Systems Group. He lives with his wife, Paige, and their two dogs.