Marsha Sue Ivins is a former American astronaut veteran officially retired from NASA on December 31, 2010 after completing five successful space missions in her 30 year career with NASA.
Ivins was born April 15, 1951 in Baltimore Maryland. She got her aerospace engineering degree from the University of Boulder in 1973.
With that degree, Marsha secured a position in technical support with NASA at the Johnson Space Center. Initially, Ivins main project was to work on orbiter displays and controls. It wasn’t long before Ivins moved up to work as a flight engineer and a co-pilot of a NASA administrative aircraft.
In 1984, her hard work was acknowledged with the selection as an astronaut candidate. She completed her training and became eligible for a space mission.
Her first mission was the STS-32 which took place between January 9th and 20th of 1990. The Orbiter Columbia launched from Kennedy Space Center. The mission had the goal of deploying a Syncom satellite and retrieving the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF weighing 21,400 pounds). After 173 orbits, 4.5 million miles, 261 hours, 1 minute and 38 seconds in eleven days, the orbiter returned to Earth at the Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Her next mission was the STS-46 from July 31st to August 8th of 1992. Aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis, the crew launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission successfully deployed the EURECA (European Retrievable Carrier) satellite as well as performed the Tethered Satellite System test flight. After 126 orbits, 3.35 million miles, 191 hours, 16 minutes, and 7 seconds in 8 days, the shuttle returned to Florida.
The STS-62 mission launched with Ivins on board once again. The Space Shuttle Columbia launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 4, 1994. The crew members carried with them 2 separate payloads, the United States Microgravity Payload (USMP) 2 and the Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology (OAST) 2. The experiments set up on the payloads were designed to study the effectiveness of microgravity on materials sciences, growth of protein crystals and other space technologies. The crew members used the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) to perform advanced operator tasks for demonstration and testing. After 224 orbits, 5.82 million miles, 312 hours, 23 minutes and 16 seconds, the shuttle returned to Kennedy Space Center on March 18, 1994.
On January 12, 1997, Ivins and her crew began the two part mission STS-81. The Atlantis left Kennedy Air Force Base with a destination of Russia’s Space Station Mir. There they would dock to the station for five days. During that time, the crew transferred the Spacehab Double Module over to Mir. This was to provide additional middeck locker space for secondary experiments. The Atlantis also exchanged the crew of U.S. Astronauts at the Mir as well as more than three tons of food, water, experiment equipment and samples. After 160 orbits, 3.9 million miles, 244 hours and 56 minutes, the Atlantis returned to the Kennedy Space Station on January 22, 1997.
Ivins last journey before retirement was the STS-98 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. On February 7, 2001, the Shuttle launched with a mission to deliver the module Destiny to the International Space Center. This module was attached to the Space Center by the crew within three spacewalks. During the rest of the seven days the crew was docked, they also relocated one of the Space Center’s docks and delivered supplies and experiments to the Expedition 1 crew. After 203 orbits, 5.3 million miles, 12 days, 21 hours, and 20 minutes, the Atlantis returned to Edwards Air Force Base in California on February the 20th.
Image Caption: The photo of USA astronaut Marsha Ivins. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia