Daniel M. Tani

On February 1st, 1961, Daniel Tani was born to Rose and Henry N. Tani of Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. He and his family later moved to Lombard, Illinois where he graduated high school from Glenbard East High School. In 1979, Tani started his studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1984 he received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and his master’s, specializing in human factors and group decision making, in 1988. During his time at MIT, Tani was a Brother of the Alpha Delta Phi Literary Society.

Between the time he received the two degrees, Tani worked at Hughes Aircraft Corporation in El Segundo, California as a design engineer in the Space and Communications Group. After his master’s, Tani worked in the experimental psychology department at Bolt, Beranek, and Newman in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

By 1988, Tani took a position as a senior structure engineer at Orbital Science Corporation (OSC) in Dulles, Virginia. He moved to mission operations manager for the Transfer Orbit Stage (TOS). This support role worked with NASA/JSC mission control during the operational phase of mission STS-51in September 1993. His flight operation lead role assisted in the deployment of the ACTS/TOS payload during the mission.

Tani continued to succeed at OSC and was moved to the Pegasus program as the launch operations manager. While in that position, Tani taught and implemented procedures and constraints that he developed for launching the air-launched unmanned rocket, Pegasus.

In April of 1996, Tani was chosen as a candidate for an astronaut position by NASA officials. After two years of training and evaluations, Tani was successfully given an assignment as a mission specialist on a flight in 1998. His jobs involved technical duties in the Astronaut Office Computer Support Branch, and Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) Branch. He also served as Crew Support Astronaut for Expedition 2.

In the December of 2001, Tani took part in the STS-108 Mission in which he and his crew visited the International Space Station (ISS). Tani then performed a spacewalk in which he logged over 11 days and four EVA hours in order to wrap the ISS Solar Array Gimbals in thermal blankets. 283 hours and 36 minutes was spent in space on that one mission. The following year, in May 2002, Tani took part in the NEEMO 2 (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) as an aquanaut. Tani and his crew spent a week aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

After his return from STS-108, was chosen as the Expedition 9 backup flight engineer and later he was chosen as the Expedition 16 flight engineer and was sent to the ISS on October 23, 2007 aboard the STS-120. Tani performed one space walk with the STS-120 crew and four others during his time at the ISS. After spending four months in space, Tani returned to Earth on February 20, 2008 aboard the STS-122.

Over the time of his space career, Tani has been awarded the ‘Orbital Sciences Corporation Outstanding Technical Achievement Award’ (1993) and a medal “For Merit in Space Exploration” (2011) for outstanding contribution to the development of international cooperation in manned space flight. He was also asked to throw the ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field. He did son on August 20, 2008 as well as singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

Overall, David M. Tani was a successful man, from his travels in space to his adventures in the sea.

Image Caption: Portrait of astronaut Daniel M. Tani. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia