Captain Kathryn Hire is a NASA astronaut who has flown aboard two Space Shuttle missions. She was born Kathryn Patricia Hire on August 26, 1959 in Mobile, Alabama. She graduated from Murphy High School in 1977, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering and Management from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981. After earning her Naval Flight Officer wings in October 1982, Hire she carried out worldwide airborne oceanographic research missions with Oceanographic Development Squadron Eight based at NAS Patuxent River. She flew as Oceanographic Project Coordinator, Mission Commander and Detachment Officer-in-Charge on board RP-3A and RP-3D Orion aircraft. She later became a flight instructor while assigned to Naval Air Training Unit Mather.
In January 1989, Hire left active duty and accepted a Reserve commission at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Her tours of duty included Patrol Squadron Augment Unit VP-0545 and Anti-Submarine Warfare Operations Center 0574 and 0374. In 1993, Hire became the first female in the U.S. military assigned to a combat aircrew when she flew as a Navigator/Communicator aboard the P-3C Update III Orion. Hire has since served with many Naval forces, such as USS Kitty Hawk Detachment 0482, Tactical Support Center 0682, U.S. Seventh Fleet Detachment 111, and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Detachment 108. She returned to active duty, and on December 1, 2002 while working on Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hire was promoted to her current rank of Captain in the U.S. Navy.
While working as a Navy Reserve, Hire began work at the Kennedy Space Center as an Orbiter Processing Facility 3 Activation Engineer and later as a Space Shuttle Orbiter Mechanical Systems Engineer. In 1991 she certified as a Space Shuttle Test Project Engineer, and subsequently earned her Master’s of Science degree in Space Technology from Florida Institute of Technology. Three years later in 1994, she was assigned as Supervisor of Space Shuttle Orbiter Mechanisms and Launch Pad Swing Arms. In December of that same year, Hire was selected by NASA and reported to the Johnson Space Center in March 1995. After a year of training, she worked in mission control as a spacecraft communicator and flew as Mission Specialist-2 on STS-90 Neurolab. During the 16-day flight aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, they operated 26 life science experiments that concentrated on the effects of microgravity on the brain and nervous system. In total, the STS-90 flight orbited the Earth 256 times and covered 6.3 million miles. Later, Hire also journeyed to the International Space Station as a Mission Specialist for Space Shuttle mission STS-130.
Throughout her life, Hire has received numerous awards and honors, such as the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, two National Defense Service Medals, the War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal.