Mark Lee

Mark Lee is a former NASA astronaut and USAF Colonel. He was born Mark Charles Lee on August 14, 1952 in Viroqua, Wisconsin. He is an Eagle Scout and a graduate from the Class of 1970 at Viroqua High School. He attended the United States Air Force Academy and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering in 1974. He then trained at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas and at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona in preparation for his assignment at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, where he flew F-4’s in the 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron. In 1980, Lee earned a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was subsequently assigned to the Airborne Warning and Control System Office at Hanscom Air Force Base, where he served as a manager of AWACS aircraft evaluations and repairs. In 1982 he assumed a position flying the F-16 and serving as executive officer for the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing Deputy Commander for Operations. At the same time, he was a flight commander in the 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

In May 1984, Lee was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA. A year later he completed training and qualified for assignment as a mission specialist on future Space Shuttle missions. His initial assignments included oversight of the extravehicular activity, the Inertial Upper Stage, Spacelab and Space Station systems. He also served various supervising roles, including spacecraft communicator in the Mission Control Center, Lead Astronaut Support Person at the Kennedy Space Center, Chief of Astronaut Appearances, Chief of the Astronaut Office Mission Development Branch, Chief of the EVA Robotics Branch, and Chief of the EVA Branch. Lee’s first mission to space was aboard shuttle Atlantis on STS-30. The mission launched on May 4, 1989 and was a four day mission, during which the crew effectively deployed the Magellan Venus-exploration spacecraft and the first planetary probe to be deployed from the Shuttle. The crew also worked on secondary payloads involving Indium crystal growth, electrical storm, and earth observation studies. After 64 orbits of the Earth, the mission ended with the first cross-wind landing test of the Shuttle Orbiter at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

His second flight, mission STS-47, launched on September 12, 1992 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. It was an eight-day cooperative mission between the United States and Japan focused on life science and materials processing experiments in space. Lee’s wife at the time, Jan Davis, was also an astronaut aboard the flight. After completing 126 orbits of Earth, the mission landed at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on September 20, 1992. Nearly two years later, Lee was a mission specialist on his third flight, mission STS-64. It launched aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on September 9, 1994. During the mission, the crew sent out and retrieved a solar science satellite, used RMS boom for jet thruster research, used lasers for environmental research for the first time, and Lee carried out the first un-tethered spacewalk in ten years to test a self-rescue jetpack. The mission landed back at Edwards Air Force Base on September 20, 1994. Lee’s final flight to space was also aboard Shuttle Discovery, mission STS-82, which launched as the second Hubble Space Telescope maintenance mission on February 11, 1997. The crew was able to successfully retrieve and secure the HST in the shuttle’s payload bay.  Lee was a member of one of two teams that installed new spectrometers and eight replacement instruments within five spacewalks. They also replaced insulation patches over three compartments containing key data processing, electronics and scientific instrument telemetry packages before landing back on Earth on February 21, 1997.

He retired from the Air Force and NASA on July 1, 2001. Lee has been honored with many awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal. He has also received two Air Force Commendation Medals, four NASA Space Flight Medals, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Public Service Group Achievement Award, and two NASA Exceptional Service Medals.

Image Caption: NASA Astronaut, Mark Charles Lee. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia