Nancy Currie

Nancy Currie is an engineer, United States Army officer, and a NASA astronaut. She was born Nancy Jane Sherlock on December 29, 1958 in Wilmington, Delaware. She moved to Troy, Ohio as a child and graduated from Troy High School in 1977. She then went on to attend Ohio State University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biological Science in 1980. From there she continued her education by earning a Master of Science degree in Safety Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1985, and a Doctorate in Industrial Engineering from the University of Houston in 1997.

For more than 22 years, Currie has served in the United States Army. After completing her initial rotary-wing pilot training, she became an instructor pilot at the U.S. Army Aviation Center. She has held many leadership positions including section leader, platoon leader, and brigade flight-standardization officer, and has logged nearly 4,000 flying hours in both rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircrafts. In September 1987, Currie headed to the Johnson Space Center to work as a flight simulation engineer on the Shuttle Training Aircraft. Three years later, NASA selected her to be an astronaut, and subsequently was involved in robotic hardware development for the space station. Currie has also served as a spacecraft communicator and as the chief of the Astronaut Office Robotics and Payloads-Habitability branches and the Habitability and Human Factors Office in the Johnson Space Center’s Space and Life Sciences Directorate.

Currie’s first flight to space was as a mission specialist and flight engineer on STS-57. The mission launched Space Shuttle Endeavour on June 21, 1993 to retrieve the European Retrievable Carrier satellite. The crew also performed a spacewalk, during which Currie operated the robotic arm. After 155 orbits of the Earth, Currie and the crew landed back on Earth on July 1, 1993. Two years later, on July 13, 1995, Currie was sent to space again, this time aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-70. During the mission, they deployed the last NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite to finish the constellation of NASA’s orbiting communication satellite system. On her own, Currie carried out many different biomedical and remote sensing experiments. After 143 orbits of the Earth, they landed on July 22, 1995. Currie’s third flight to space was STS-88, the first International Space Station assembly mission, which launched aboard Endeavour on December 4, 1998. The goal of the mission was to connect the American-made module, Unity, to the Russian-made module, Zarya. Currie’s job was to operate the Shuttle’s robotic arm to recover Zarya and connect it to Unity. She also worked the robotic arm during two spacewalks. After finishing the connection system of the ISS and deploying two satellites, the mission ended safely with a landing back on Earth. Currie’s fourth and final mission to space was STS-109 aboard Space Shuttle Columbia. They launched on  March 1, 2002 to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Again, Currie operated the Shuttle’s robotic arm, this time to retrieve and redeploy the telescope in between upgrades and repairs. She also operated the robotic arm during five consecutive spacewalks.  After completing 165 orbits of the Earth, STS-109 landed on March 12, 2002.

Currie has been recognized many times and been honored with many awards, including: Arts and Sciences Award for Scholarship from Ohio State University in 1980; Distinguished Graduate of the Army Air Defense Artillery Officer Basic Course in 1981; Honor Graduate of the Army Rotary Wing Aviator Course in 1982; Honor Graduate of the Army Aviation Officer Advanced Course in 1986; NASA Flight Simulation Engineering Award in 1988; Troy, Ohio Hall of Fame and Ohio State University Army ROTC Hall of Fame in 1996; and the Silver Order of St. Michael, Army Aviation Award in 1997. She has also earned four NASA Space Flight Medals, two Defense Superior Service Medals, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. She is a member of Army Aviation Association of America, Phi Kappa Phi, Ohio State University and ROTC Alumni Associations, Institute of Industrial Engineers, and Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Currently, Currie works as the Senior Technical Advisor to the Automation, Robotics, and Simulation Division in the Johnson Space Center Engineering Directorate.

Image Caption: Nancy J. Currie, STS-109 mission specialist. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia