Educated Texas; West Florida; Patuxent.
Selected by NASA in January 1990, Cockrell became an astronaut in July 1991. He is qualified for assignment as a pilot on future Space Shuttle flight crews. His technical assignments to date include: duties in the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch, working on landing, rollout, tires and brakes issues; CAPCOM in Mission Control for ascent and entry; Astronaut Office representative for Flight Data File, the numerous books of procedures carried aboard Shuttle flights. He served as Assistant to the Chief of the Astronaut Office for Shuttle operations and hardware, and has served as Chief of the Astronaut Office Operations Development Branch. A veteran of three space flights, he has logged over 906 hours in space. He flew on STS-56 in 1993, STS-69 in 1995, and STS-80 in 1996. Cockrell is currently acting Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office.
Cockrell flew as a mission specialist on the crew of STS-56, carrying ATLAS-2. During the nine-day mission the crew of Discovery conducted atmospheric and solar studies in order to better understand the effect of solar activity on the Earth's climate and environment. STS-56 launched April 8, 1993, and landed April 17, 1993. Mission duration was 9 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes, 21 seconds.
Cockrell next served as pilot on STS-69, September 7-18, 1995. The primary objective of the mission was the successful deployment and retrieval of a SPARTAN satellite and the Wake Shield Facility (WSF). The WSF is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of using this free-flying experiment to grow semiconductors, high temperature superconductors and other materials using the ultra-high vacuum created behind the spacecraft near the experiment package. Mission duration was 10 days, 20 hours, 28 minutes.
Most recently, Cockrell commanded the STS-80 mission (November 19 to December 7, 1996) aboard Columbia. During the flight the crew deployed and retrieved the Wake Shield Facility (WSF) and the Orbiting Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer (ORFEUS) satellites. The WSF is designed to fly free of the Shuttle, creating a super vacuum in its wake in which to grow thin film wafers for use in semiconductors and other high-tech electrical components. The ORFEUS instruments, mounted on the reusable Shuttle Pallet Satellite, will study the origin and makeup of stars. Mission duration was a record breaking 17 days, 15 hours, 53 minutes.
Birth Place: Austin, Texas.
Spaceflights: 5 .
Total time in space: 64.52 days.
Mission Specialists: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics and minimum three years of related experience or an advanced degree. Vision minimum 20/150 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20. Maximum sitting blood pressure of 140/90. Height between 150 and 193 cm.. Reported to the Johnson Space Center in late July 1990 to begin their year long training. Chosen from 1945 qualified applicants, then 106 finalists screened between September and November 1989.