James Shelton Voss

James Shelton Voss is a retired NASA astronaut as well as a retired United States Army Colonel. Voss now serves as the Vice President of Engineering at SpaceDev.

On March 3, 1949, Voss was born in Cordova, Alabama but later moved to Opelika, Alabama to live and be raised by his grandparents. He went on to join the wrestling team at Opelika High School and after graduating, he went on to join the wrestling at Auburn University. There, he also was elected as Chapter President of the Theta Xi Fraternity’s Beta Zeta Chapter from 1970 to 1971. Voss also served as a part of the Army ROTC program at Auburn. He graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and he was chosen as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Voss was able to continue with his education through the Army Graduate Fellowship Program and proceeded with his schooling at the University of Colorado where he graduated with his Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering Sciences in 1974.

With his degree, Voss was noted as a Distinguished Graduate form the Infantry Basic Course in 1974. Later he went to Ranger School, where he received the Honor Graduate and Leaderships awards, and Airborne School. From there, his military service started. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment located in West Germany where he ranked as platoon leader, commander and staff officer. Upon his return to the US, Voss was placed on the Commandant’s List in 1979 after attending the Infantry Officer Advanced Course. At the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Voss graduated with the Outstanding Student Award in 1983. Subsequently, Voss attended the Armed Forces Staff College to later be appointed as a Flight Test Engineer with the U.S. Army Aviation Engineering Flight Activity.

Voss decided to use his degrees and qualifications to teach at the United States Military Academy in West Point in the Department of Mechanics. During his work with West Point, he received the William P. Clements Jr. Award for Excellence in Education from the NASA Summer Faculty Research Fellowship.

Voss then started to join efforts with NASA by becoming a Vehicle Integration Test Engineer in the November of 1984. He worked in supporting missions: STS-51-D, STS-51-F, STS-61-C, and STS-51-L. Because of his extensive knowledge of NASA’s flight operating system, in June 1987, Voss was chosen as an astronaut candidate. While working with NASA, he served as a flight crew representative, as a CAPCOM, and as Astronaut Office Training Officer.

STS-44 Atlantis was launched on November 24, 1991 at 6:44 pm EST from launch pad 39-A. On this mission, Voss served as a Mission Specialist to help launch a satellite used by the Defense Support Program. After orbiting Earth 110 times and logging six days, twenty-two hours, fifty minutes and forty-four seconds, the Space Shuttle Atlantis returned to Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Voss’ second mission as Mission Specialist was the STS-53 Discovery which launched December 2, 1992 from launching pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:24 pm UTC. This mission was another that was to unload equipment for the Department of Defense. After a total of seven days, seven hours, nineteen minutes and seventeen seconds totaling 116 orbits, the crew landed on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base in California on December 9, 1992.

Throughout STS-69 Endeavour, Voss once again worked as a Mission Specialist but also as a Payload Commander, launching on September 7, 1995. This mission was performed in order to position the SPARTAN satellite. On this mission, Voss and fellow astronaut Michael Gernhardt performed a spacewalk testing the new design of a space suit for six hours total. After the Endeavour’s 171 orbits around the Earth, the crew tallied up over ten days and twenty hours of space time before landing on September 18, 1995.

After his third mission, Voss left to Star City, Russia to train at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. There, he served as a trained back-up pilot for the mission STS-84/ Mir 23/ Mir 24/ STS-86 as well as on the STS-89/ Mir 24/ Mir 25/ STS-91 mission.

His fourth mission as Mission Specialist was the STS-101 Atlantis which launched on May 19, 2000 at 6:11 am EDT from launch pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center. On this spaceflight, Voss and his crew took over 3,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station. This took the crew 9 days, 21 hours, 10 minutes, 10 seconds and a total of 155 orbits to finish. They landed on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center on May 29, 2000.

Voss launched on March 8, 2001 on the STS-102 Discovery mission as a Mission Specialist. On this mission, Voss and fellow astronaut Susan Helms performed the longest spacewalk recorded to date lasting eight hours and fifty-six minutes in order to get ready for the relocation of a Pressurized Mating Adapter. Voss, Susan Helms and other astronauts prolonged their stay at the International Space Station for 163 days. They performed a nineteen minute EVA to arrange the arrival of the Pirs Docking Compartment by putting in place a docking probe. Because Voss was one of the astronauts to witness the Quest Airlock’s arrival, he was featured on Space Station 3D, the first 3D film shot in space. On August 20, 2002, Voss finally returned home with the crew of the STS-105 Discovery mission. After this fifth flight of Voss’, he aided in the Space Station Program Mission and Integration and Operations office by taking place as the Deputy for Flight Operations.

Voss retired from NASA in 2003, moving back to Alabama to work with Auburn University, becoming Associate Dean of Engineering for External Affairs while teaching a class on Human Spacecraft Design. Voss managed a group of seniors interested in aerospace engineering to design a prototype for the Transformational Space Corporation. In the November of 2007, SpaceDev offered him the position of Vice President of Engineering and a chance to work on the Dream Chaser Spaceplane. Most recently, Voss was noted as a ‘Scholar in Residence’ and began teaching on human spaceflight at the University of Colorado located in Boulder.

Image Caption: Astronaut James S. Voss will ride aboard Discovery to serve on the Expedition Two crew on the International Space Station (ISS). Credit: NASA/Wikipedia