James Buchli is an engineer, retired United States Marine aviator and former NASA astronaut. He was born James Frederick Buchli on June 20, 1945 in New Rockford, North Dakota. He graduated from Fargo Central High School in Fargo, North Dakota in 1963 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy in 1967. Upon his graduation, Buchli received his commission in the United States Marine Corps and completed Basic Infantry Officer’s Course Training. He was soon after sent to the Republic of Vietnam for a tour of duty, where he worked as a Platoon Commander with the 9th Marine Regiment. In 1969, he returned to the United States for naval flight officer training at Naval Air Station in Pensacola. After earning his wings, he spent two years assigned to VMFA-122 at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii. In 1973, he remained in active duty for a tour of duty with VMFA-115 at Royal Thai Air Base Nam Phong in Thailand. Upon completing his tour, he returned to the U.S. and completed the Marine Advanced Degree Program, and was then assigned to VMFA-312 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. In 1975, he earned a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering Systems from the University of West Florida.
In August 1979, Buchli became a NASA astronaut and was chosen to be a part of the support crew for STS-1. The crew launched on January 24, 1985 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, and the mission was the first dedicated Department of Defense mission. STS-1 deployed a modified Inertial Upper Stage vehicle from the Space Shuttle, and then safely landed back on Earth, ending the 73 hour 33 minute 27 second mission. His next mission was STS-61-A, which launched 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. Buchli’s third flight was STS-29 aboard Discovery from March 13, 1989. During the mission, the crew deployed a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite as well as carried out many secondary experiments and took photographs. The mission ended successfully on March 18, 1989. Buchli’s fourth and final mission, from September 12 to September 18, 1991, was aboard shuttle Discovery on STS-48. The crew deployed the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, which was designed to provide scientists with data sets on the upper atmosphere’s chemistry. They also performed several secondary experiments before the mission ended.
From March 1989 to May 1992 Buchli served as Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office. On September 1, 1992 Buchli retired from NASA and the Marine Corps to become a Manager of Boeing Defense and Space Group in Huntsville, Alabama. In April 1993, he was reassigned as Boeing Deputy for Payload Operations, and currently he is working as the Operations & Utilization Manager for Space Station, Boeing Defense and Space Group at Houston, Texas.