Steven Hawley

Steven Hawley is a former NASA astronaut. He was born Steven Alan Hawley on December 12, 1951 in Ottawa, Kansas. He graduated from Salina High School Central in Salina, Kansas in 1969 and continued on to The University of Kansas, where he received two Bachelor of Arts degrees in physics and astronomy. After graduating with the highest distinction of his class and spending summers as a research assistant at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia, Hawley received a Doctor of Philosophy in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1977. His graduate research involved spectrophotometry of gaseous nebulae and emission-line galaxies and has since been published in astronomical journals. He was a post-doctoral research associate at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in La Serena, Chile when he was chosen to be an astronaut candidate.

In 1978, NASA selected Hawley to be a part of the space program. After completing training, he married fellow astronaut Sally Ride in 1982; however, the couple divorced five years later. His first mission was as a pilot of shuttle Discovery on STS-41-D, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on August 30, 1984 after three delays. During the mission, the crew successfully started the OAST-1 solar cell wing experiment, sent out three satellites (SBS-D, SYNCOM IV-2, and TELSTAR 3-C), and managed the CFES-III experiment. After 96 orbits of the earth, the mission ended by landing at Edwards Air Force Base on September 5, 1984. His second space flight was aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on STS-61-C. The flight launched on January 12, 1986 from Kennedy Space Center. During the six-day flight, the crew deployed the SATCOM KU satellite and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing. The mission was completed in 96 orbits of Earth and ended by successfully landing at Edwards Air Force Base on January 18, 1986. Hawley’s third spaceflight was STS-31 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery. They launched on April 24, 1990 from Kennedy Space Center, and the crew spent the five-day mission deploying the Hubble Space Telescope and conducting a variety of experiments. They used multiple cameras to observe the Earth from their record-setting altitude. After 75 orbits of Earth, Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base on April 29, 1990.

In 1997, he flew on his fourth mission, STS-82. This was the second Hubble Space Telescope maintenance mission, and it launched aboard Shuttle Discovery on February 11, 1997. The crew was able to successfully retrieve and secure the HST in the shuttle’s payload bay. Two teams installed new spectrometers and eight replacement instruments within five spacewalks, all of which were performed by Hawley. They also replaced insulation patches over three compartments containing key data processing, electronics and scientific instrument telemetry packages. The mission landed the evening of February 21, 1997. Hawley’s fifth and final flight was on STS-93 Columbia, which launched on July 22, 1999 and successfully deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Dr. Hawley served as Columbia’s flight engineer and the primary operator of a second telescope. After 79 orbits of the Earth, the mission ended with an evening landing at Kennedy Space Center on July 27, 1999.

Hawley is a member of the American Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was also a member of two fraternities: Sigma Pi Sigma and Phi Beta Kappa. Additionally, Hawley has earned many honors and awards, including the Outstanding Physics Major Award in 1973, the Group Achievement Award for software testing at the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory in 1981, the NASA Outstanding Performance Award and the NASA Superior Performance Award in 1981, five NASA Space Flight Medals, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, and two NASA Distinguished Service Medals. His most recent job was as a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas; however, he has since retired and lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife, former Eileen M. Keegan.

Image Caption: NASA Astronaut Steven Hawley. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia