Apt, Jerome

Jerome Apt is an American physicist and astronaut. He was born Jerome Apt the Third on April 28, 1949 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He graduated high school from Shady Side Academy, and continued on to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College in 1971. He also earned a Doctorate in Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. Upon his graduation, he was a staff member of the Center for Earth and Planetary Physics at Harvard, as well as the Assistant Director of Harvard’s Division of Applied Sciences. In 1980, he joined the Earth and Space Sciences Division of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a scientist doing planetary research. For two years, Apt was a flight controller responsible for Shuttle payload operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. In 1986, NASA chose Apt to become an astronaut.

On April 5, 1991 Apt flew aboard Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-37 mission. They launched from Kennedy Space Center to complete a six day mission to deploy the Gamma Ray Observatory’s radio antenna because it failed to do so on its own. They also tested hardware that would be used on the International Space Station, as well as performed research on biologically important molecules, tested concepts for radiating heat from the station, operated an amateur radio station, and took thousands of photographs of the Earth. In 1992, he flew aboard shuttle Endeavour on the crew of STS-47 as the flight engineer and commander. The mission was between the United States and Japan and launched on September 12, 1992. The goal was to perform science and materials processing experiments in space. Apt was responsible for operating the Orbiter during one of the two shifts on the dual shift mission, and after completing 126 orbits of the Earth, the crew landed at Kennedy Space Center on September 20, 1992. Nearly two years later, Apt was again a shift commander on Endeavour for the first Space Radar Laboratory mission that launched on April 9, 1994. This lab studied the land surfaces and oceans of Earth with three imaging radar systems. They flew through the largest series of maneuvers in Shuttle history to point the radar precisely at hundreds of ecology, geology, and oceanography sites. They landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base, California eleven days later. In 1996, Apt flew aboard shuttle Atlantis and visited the Russian Mir space station. They launched on September 16 and docked with the station and transferred over four tons of supplies, personnel, and scientific equipment there. They also exchanged U.S. astronauts on Mir for the first time. The notable mission of international cooperation and scientific research ended at Kennedy Space Center.

In 2003, Apt became a Professor at the Tepper School of Business and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. He is also the author of the book Orbit: NASA Astronauts Photograph the Earth. He is married to the former Eleanor B. Emmons, and together they have two daughters.