Covey, Richard O.

Richard Covey is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and former NASA astronaut. He was born Richard Oswalt Covey on August 1, 1946 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He was raised in Fort Walton Beach, Florida and graduated from Choctawhatchee High School in 1964. He went on to attend the United States Air Force Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in engineering sciences in 1968. One year later he earned a Master of Science in aeronautics and astronautics from Purdue University.

As a member of the US Air Force, Covey was a fighter pilot and flew the F-100 Super Sabre, A-37 Dragonfly, and A-7 Corsair II from 1970-1974. He also flew two tours in Southeast Asia. From 1975 to 1978, he was an F-4 Phantom II and A-7D weapons system test pilot. He logged over 5,700 hours in more than 30 different kinds of aircrafts. In January of 1978, NASA chose Covey to be an astronaut candidate, and a year and a half later was became an astronaut. His first assignment was to provide astronaut support in Orbiter engineering development and testing. He was also a T-38 chase pilot for the second and third Space Shuttle flights and support crewman for mission STS-5. Covey also worked as a CAPCOM for various shuttle missions.

Covey flew on four flights to space and logged over 646 hours in space. His first mission was as the pilot of STS-51-I, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on August 27, 1985. During the mission, the crew sent out three communications satellites: the Navy SYNCOM IV-4, the Australian AUSSAT, and American Satellite Company’s ASC-1, and they also completed a successful rendezvous and repair of the SYNCOM IV-3 satellite. After 112 orbits of the Earth, Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base on September 3, 1985. His next flight to space was also as a pilot aboard Space Shuttle Discovery for mission STS-26. After launching from the Kennedy Space Center on September 29, 1988, the crew successfully deployed the TDRS-C satellite and managed eleven secondary payloads. After 64 orbits of the Earth, the mission safely landed at Edwards Air Force Base on October 3, 1988.

Covey’s third flight to space was as spacecraft commander of STS-38, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center on the evening of November 15, 1990. The crew performed Department of Defense operations during the mission and, after 80 orbits of the Earth, Space Shuttle Atlantis landed safely at the Kennedy Space Center on November 20, 1990. On his fourth and final flight, Covey commanded a seven-man crew aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on the STS-61. The goal of the mission was to service and repair the Hubble Space Telescope. The 11-day mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center on December 2, 1993.

After four spacewalks the HST was captured and restored to its fullest ability. After 163 orbits of the Earth, Covey landed the mission at the Kennedy Space Center on December 13, 1993. During 1989, Covey was Chairman of NASA’s Space Flight Safety Panel and also held other technical assignments within the Astronaut Office. On August 1, 1994, Covey retired from both NASA and the Air Force. He is currently married and has two grown daughters. In 2005, Covey received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America and was featured in an issue of Eagletter. As of September 28, 2007, Covey has succeeded Michael J. McCulley as Chief Executive Officer of United Space Alliance.