Shuttle pilot is OSU alumnus; Alaska native

December 7th, 2006

UPDATE!!! Just found a blog that Bill Oefelein, pilot of the recent space shuttle mission is conducting about the mission.Discovery Mission Patch

Discovery’s seven astronauts are among the most culturally diverse of any space shuttle crew. There are two African-Americans, an astronaut of Indian descent, the soon-to-be first Swede in space, a British-born mission specialist, an Alaskan and a Jersey Boy.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, pilot.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. William Oefelein, pilot.

Age: 41

Hometown: Born in Ft. Belvoir, Va., but considers Anchorage, Alaska, his hometown.

Called “Billy-O” by his fellow astronauts, Oefelein began his aviation career as a teenager flying floatplanes in Alaska.

“One of the best ways to explore the state … was by air,” Oefelein said. “I started flying floatplanes up there and explored – whether I was just trying to find a new fishing hole or camping spot.”

He studied electrical engineering at Oregon State University and later earned a master’s degree in aviation systems at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. He received a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy in 1988 and was designated a naval aviator two years later. He made several overseas deployments, attended Navy Fighter Weapons (Topgun) School and then became a test pilot instructor before he was selected to be an astronaut in 1998.

As Discovery’s pilot, Oefelein will undock Discovery from the space station, coordinate the mission’s three spacewalks and use the shuttle’s robotic arm to inspect for any damage. He is making his first flight in space.

Oefelein was selected by NASA in June, 1998, and was originally scheduled to pilot the space shuttle in 2003. But the Columbia disaster during reentry in February of that year put the program on hold and left fellow OSU engineering alumnus Donald Pettit on the International Space Station for close to six months, before he returned safely to Earth aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

On his mission, Oefelein and the seven-member crew will reconfigure the electrical system and add a truss segment to accommodate more solar arrays, which provide electrical power.

“I’m really looking forward to wearing a lot of hats,” he said.

Thanks to Forbes and OSU News for story details.


5 responses to “Shuttle pilot is OSU alumnus; Alaska native”

  1. VLJ says:

    From the OSU News Article:

    “As a kid, I always liked math and science. I never really wanted to become an astronaut, I just wanted to fly airplanes and explore,� he said.

    Interesting where life takes you. I guess I always figured that becoming an astronaut was the result of effort applied to a life-long dream.

  2. Nice post. FYI, the link in your UPDATE to Bill Oefelein’s blog is busted. All I got was a blank page. (No error message, just a blank page.)

  3. george says:

    I am loving flying. Now i am taking training as a shuttle pilot. My dream is to be a very good pilot. After my training i will join in Alaska.
    Alaska Drug Treatment

  4. […] from KGW News about OSU Alumnus, Don Pettit. Don has already been to space once. He represents the second OSU alumnus in three years to make the journey out of Earth’s atmosphere. PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An astronaut from […]

  5. Very cool! I’m planning my first ever trip to visit Alaska this summer and I’m reading all I can about the state. I’ve always love space/astronomy, so learning about Don Pettit was awesome!

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