Encyclopedia Astronautica

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Searfoss, Richard Alan 'Rick' (1956-) American test pilot astronaut. Flew on STS-58, STS-76, STS-90.

Grew up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Educated USAFA; Caltech; Patuxent. USAF test pilot.

NASA Official Biography

NAME: Richard A. Searfoss (Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, Colonel Selectee )
NASA Astronaut

Born June 5, 1956, in Mount Clemens, Michigan, but considers Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to be his hometown. Married; three children. He enjoys running, soccer, radio-controlled model aircraft, Scouting, backpacking, and classical music.

Graduated from Portsmouth Senior High School, Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1974; received a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the USAF Academy in 1978, and a master of science degree in aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology on a National Science Foundation Fellowship in 1979.

National Eagle Scout Association, Air Force Association, Academy of Model Aeronautics.

Awarded the Harmon, Fairchild, Price and Tober Awards (top overall, academic, engineering, and aeronautical engineering graduate), United States Air Force Academy Class of 1978. Distinguished graduate, USAF Fighter Weapons School. Named the Tactical Air Command F-111 Instructor Pilot of the Year, 1985. Recipient of the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

Searfoss graduated in 1980 from Undergraduate Pilot Training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. From 1981-1984, he flew the F-111F operationally at RAF Lakenheath, England, followed by a tour at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, where he was an F-111A instructor pilot and weapons officer until 1987. In 1988 he attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland, as a USAF exchange officer. He was a flight instructor at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, California, when selected for the astronaut program.

He has logged over 4,200 hours flying time in 56 different types of aircraft and over 557 hours in space.

Selected by NASA in January 1990, Searfoss became an astronaut in July 1991. Initially assigned to the Astronaut Office Mission Support Branch, Searfoss was part of a team responsible for crew ingress/strap-in prior to launch and crew egress after landing. He was subsequently assigned to flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL). Additionally, he has served as the Astronaut Office representative for both flight crew procedures and Shuttle computer software development.

Searfoss served as STS-58 pilot on the seven-person life science research mission aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, launching from the Kennedy Space Center on October 18, 1993, and landing at Edwards Air Force Base on November 1, 1993. The crew performed neurovestibular, cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary, metabolic, and musculoskeletal medical experiments on themselves and 48 rats, expanding our knowledge of human and animal physiology both on earth and in spaceflight. In addition, the crew performed 16 engineering tests aboard the Orbiter Columbia and 20 Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project experiments. The mission was accomplished in 225 orbits of the Earth.

Launching March 22, 1996, Searfoss flew his second mission as pilot of STS-76 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. During this nine-day mission the STS-76 crew performed the third docking of an American spacecraft with the Russian space station Mir. In support of a joint U.S./Russian program, the crew transported to Mir nearly two tons of water, food, supplies, and scientific equipment, as well as U.S. Astronaut Shannon Lucid to begin her six-month stay in space. STS-76 included the first ever spacewalk on a combined Space Shuttle-Space Station complex. The flight crew also conducted scientific investigations, including European Space Agency sponsored biology experiments, the Kidsat earth observations project, and several engineering flight tests. Completed in 145 orbits, STS-76 landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on March 31, 1996.

Lt. Col. Searfoss is currently assigned to command STS-90 Neurolab, a 16-day Spacelab mission dedicated to investigations on the effects of microgravity on the nervous system. Launch is targeted for April 1998.

APRIL 1997

Birth Place: Mount Clemens, Michigan.
Status: Inactive.

Born: 1956.06.05.
Spaceflights: 3 .
Total time in space: 39.14 days.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Countries
See also
  • Astronaut Category of persons, applied to those trained for spaceflight outside of Russia and China. More...
  • NASA Group 13 - 1990 Requirement: pilot, engineer, and scientist astronauts for space shuttle flights. Nickname: The Hairballs. As the 13th astronaut group, the 'unlucky' theme was discussed in designing an emblem for the group. A black cat was used on an early patch design rejected by NASA. This reminded some of hairballs and the group members adopted this as a nickname. More...

Associated Flights
  • STS-58 Crew: Blaha, Fettman, Lucid, McArthur, Searfoss, Seddon, Wolf. Biological, microgravity experiments aboard Spacelab 2. More...
  • STS-76 Crew: Chilton, Clifford, Godwin, Searfoss, Sega. Shuttle-Mir Mission 3. First American EVA on Mir space station. More...
  • Mir NASA-1 Crew: Lucid. First American aboard Mir for extended stay. Backup crew: Blaha. More...
  • STS-90 Crew: Altman, Buckey, Hire, Linnehan, Pawelczyk, Searfoss, Williams Dave. Spacelab Long Module / Neurolab mission. Backup crew: Mukai, Dunlap. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Mir The Mir space station was the last remnant of the once mighty Soviet space programme. It was built to last only five years, and was to have been composed of modules launched by Proton and Buran/Energia launch vehicles. These modules were derived from those originally designed by Chelomei in the 1960's for the Almaz military station programme. As the Soviet Union collapsed Mir stayed in orbit, but the final modules were years late and could only be completed with American financial assistance. Kept flying over a decade beyond its rated life, Mir proved a source of pride to the Russian people and proved the ability of their cosmonauts and engineers to improvise and keep operations going despite all manner of challenges and mishaps. More...
  • STS The Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle) was conceived originally as a completely reusable system that would provide cheap, routine access to space and replace all American and civilian military launch vehicles. Crippled by technological overreach, political compromise, and budget limitations, it instead ended up costing more than the expendable rockets it was to have replaced. STS sucked the money out of all other NASA projects for half a century. The military abandoned its use after the Challenger shuttle explosion in the 1980's. More...

  • NASA Astronaut Biographies, Johnson Space Center, NASA, 1995-present. Web Address when accessed: here.

Searfoss Chronology

1990 January 17 - .
  • NASA Astronaut Training Group 13 selected. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Bursch; Chiao; Clifford; Cockrell; Collins, Eileen; Currie; Gregory, William; Halsell; Harris; Helms; Jones; McArthur; Newman; Ochoa; Precourt; Searfoss; Sega; Thomas; Voss, Janice; Walz; Wilcutt; Wisoff; Wolf. The group was selected to provide pilot, engineer, and scientist astronauts for space shuttle flights.. Qualifications: Pilots: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. Advanced degree desirable. At least 1,000 flight-hours of pilot-in-command time. Flight test experience desirable. Excellent health. Vision minimum 20/50 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20 vision; maximum sitting blood pressure 140/90. Height between 163 and 193 cm.

    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.

1993 October 18 - . 14:53 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-58.
  • STS-58 - . Call Sign: Columbia. Crew: Blaha; Fettman; Lucid; McArthur; Searfoss; Seddon; Wolf. Payload: Columbia F15 / EDO. Mass: 10,517 kg (23,186 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Blaha; Fettman; Lucid; McArthur; Searfoss; Seddon; Wolf. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-58. Spacecraft: Columbia. Duration: 14.01 days. Decay Date: 1993-11-01 . USAF Sat Cat: 22869 . COSPAR: 1993-065A. Apogee: 294 km (182 mi). Perigee: 284 km (176 mi). Inclination: 39.0000 deg. Period: 90.30 min. Summary: Biological, microgravity experiments aboard Spacelab 2. Payloads: Spacelab Life Sciences (SLS) 2, Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) II..

1993 November 1 - .
1996 March 22 - . 08:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-76.
  • STS-76 - . Call Sign: Atlantis. Crew: Chilton; Clifford; Godwin; Lucid; Searfoss; Sega. Payload: Atlantis F16 / Spacehab-SM. Mass: 6,753 kg (14,887 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Chilton; Clifford; Godwin; Lucid; Searfoss; Sega. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: Mir. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-76; Mir NASA-1; Mir EO-21. Spacecraft: Atlantis. Duration: 9.22 days. Decay Date: 1996-03-31 . USAF Sat Cat: 23831 . COSPAR: 1996-018A. Apogee: 398 km (247 mi). Perigee: 394 km (244 mi). Inclination: 51.7000 deg. Period: 88.80 min. Shuttle-Mir Mission 3. Docked with the Mir space station 24 March 1996; Shannon Lucid was left on Mir for an extended stay. First American EVA on Mir. Payloads: SPACEHAB/Mir 03; KidSat; Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) II, Configuration M; RME 1304óMir/ Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP); orbiter docking system RME 1315; Trapped Ions in Space Experiment (TRIS); Extravehicular Activity Development Flight Test (EDFT) 04.

1996 March 31 - .
1998 April 17 - . 18:19 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-90.
  • STS-90 - . Call Sign: Columbia. Crew: Searfoss; Altman; Linnehan; Hire; Williams, Dave; Buckey; Pawelczyk. Backup Crew: Mukai; Dunlap. Payload: Columbia F25 / Spacelab LM Eurolab. Nation: USA. Related Persons: Searfoss; Altman; Linnehan; Hire; Williams, Dave; Buckey; Pawelczyk; Mukai; Dunlap. Agency: NASA Houston. Manufacturer: Bremen. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-90. Spacecraft: Columbia. Duration: 15.91 days. Decay Date: 1998-05-03 . USAF Sat Cat: 25297 . COSPAR: 1998-022A. Apogee: 274 km (170 mi). Perigee: 247 km (153 mi). Inclination: 39.0000 deg. Period: 89.70 min. Columbia rolled out to pad 39B on March 23. Payloads:

    • Spacelab transfer tunnel
    • Spacelab Long Module, with Neurolab experiments for the following life science studies:

      • Chronic Recording of Otolith Nerves in Microgravity
      • Development of the Aortic Baroreflex under Conditions of Microgravity
      • Neural-Thyroid Interaction on Skeletal Isomyosin Expression in OG
      • Spatial Orientation of the Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex and Velocity Storage
      • Autonomic Neuroplasticity in Weightlessness

    • Extended Duration Orbiter pallet
    • Two Get Away Special beams with canisters G-197, G-467, G-772 (Colorado's COLLIDE experiment, which collided small particles into each other to simulate the formation of planets and rings).

    The Neurolab mission was managed by NASA-Johnson at Houston, unlike earlier Spacelab flights which were NASA-Marshall/Huntsville's responsibility. Landed at Kennedy Space Center May 3 1998.

1998 May 3 - .
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