Gibson was the 'Chuck Yeager' of the TFNG. He was a natural flyer who worked on the weekends on his homebuilt racing plane, and flew classic aircraft and MiG's with a preservation group. At the same time he was a natural leader, a great looker, and so utterly charming that the most ardent feminist would swoon over him despite his constant sexist comments. Blonde, a surfer and motorcycle rider in his youth, he was also lead singer and guitarist in the astronaut band Max Q. He even managed to date the militant feminist astronaut Ride, but finally married astronaut Seddon. After leaving the astronaut corps he became a pilot for Southwest Airlines.
While assigned to Fighter Squadrons 111 and 1, during the period April 1972 to September 1975, he saw duty aboard the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) and the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) -- flying combat missions in Southeast Asia. He is a graduate of the Naval Fighter Weapons School, "Topgun." Gibson returned to the United States and an assignment as an F-14A instructor pilot with Fighter Squadron 124. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland, in June 1977, and later became involved in the test and evaluation of F-14A aircraft while assigned to the Naval Air Test Center's Strike Aircraft Test Directorate.
His flight experience includes over 6,000 hours in over 50 types of civil and military aircraft. He holds airline transport pilot, multi-engine, and instrument ratings, and has held a private pilot rating since age 17. Gibson has also completed over 300 carrier landings.
On his first space flight Gibson was the pilot on the crew of STS 41-B which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on February 3, 1984. The flight accomplished the proper Shuttle deployment of two Hughes 376 communications satellites which failed to reach desired geosynchronous orbits due to upper stage rocket failures. Rendezvous sensors and computer programs were flight tested for the first time. The STS 41-B mission marked the first checkout of the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU),and Manipulator Foot Restraint (MFR), with Bruce McCandless and Bob Stewart performing two spectacular EVA's (space walks). The German Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS), Remote Manipulator System (RMS), six "Getaway Specials," and materials processing experiments were included on the mission. The eight-day orbital flight of Challenger culminated in the first landing on the runway at the Kennedy Space Center on February 11, 1984, and Gibson logged 191 hours in space.
Gibson was the spacecraft commander of the STS 61-C mission. The seven-man crew on board the Orbiter Columbia launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on January 12, 1986. During the six-day flight the crew deployed the SATCOM KU satellite and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing. The mission concluded with a successful night landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on January 18, 1986, and logged him an additional 146 hours in space.
Gibson subsequently participated in the investigation of the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, and also participated in the redesign and recertification of the solid rocket boosters.
As the spacecraft commander of STS-27, Gibson and his five-man crew launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on December 2, 1988, aboard the Orbiter Atlantis. The mission carried a Department of Defense payload, and a number of secondary payloads. After 68 orbits of the Earth the mission concluded with a dry lakebed landing on Runway 17 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on December 6, 1988. Mission duration was 105 hours.
On Gibson's fourth space flight, the 50th Space Shuttle mission, he served as spacecraft commander of STS-47, Spacelab-J, which launched on September 12, 1992 aboard the Orbiter Endeavour. The mission was a cooperative venture between the United States and Japan, and included the first Japanese astronaut as a member of the seven-person crew. During the eight-day flight, the crew focused on life science and materials processing experiments in over forty investigations in the Spacelab laboratory, as well as scientific and engineering tests performed aboard the Orbiter Endeavour. The mission ended with a successful landing on the runway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida after 126 orbits of the Earth on September 20, 1992.
Most recently, (June 27 to July 7, 1995), Captain Gibson commanded a crew of seven-members (up) and eight-members (down) on Space Shuttle mission STS-71. This was the first Space Shuttle mission to dock with the Russian Space Station Mir, and involved an exchange of crews. The Atlantis Space Shuttle was modified to carry a docking system compatible with the Russian Mir Space Station. It also carried a Spacelab module in the payload bay in which the crew performed various life sciences experiments and data collections. Mission duration was 235 hours, 23 minutes.
In five space flights, Gibson has completed a total of 36-1/2 days in space.
Gibson left NASA in mid-November to pursue private business interests.
Departed Date: 1996-11-15. Marital Status: Married. Children: Four children. Childhood: Grew up in Lakewood, California.. Education: CalPoly;Patuxent.
Birth Place: Cooperstown, New York.
Spaceflights: 5 .
Total time in space: 36.18 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.. 8,079 applicants, of which half met the basic qualifications. 208 invited for physical tests and interviews. Of the 35 selected, six were women, three were male African-Americans, and one was a male Asian-American.