National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058
NAME: Mario Runco, Jr.
- NASA Astronaut
- Born January 26, 1952, in the Bronx, New York, but
considers Yonkers, New York, to be his hometown. Married to the former Susan
Kay Friess of Sylvania, Ohio. They have two children. His parents, Mario &
Filomena Runco, reside in Yonkers, New York. Her parents, Frederick & Margaret
Friess, reside in Sylvania, Ohio.
from Cardinal Hayes High School, Bronx, New York, in 1970; received a bachelor
of science degree in meteorology and physical oceanography from the
City College of New York in 1974, and a master of science degree
meteorology from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1976.
- Enjoys ice hockey, softball, racquet
ball, snow skiing, camping, hiking, and astronomy. Played intercollegiate
ice hockey on the City College of New York and Rutgers University teams.
- Awarded the Defense Superior Service, Defense
Meritorious Service, NASA Exceptional Service, Navy Achievement and Navy
Pistol Expert Medals. Also awarded two NASA Space Flight Medals
(STS-44 and STS-54), two Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbons (USS Nassau
and USNS Chauvenet), and the Navy Battle Efficiency Ribbon (USS Nassau).
Mr. Runco was also the recipient of the City College of New York's Townsend
Harris Medal (1993), and the Cardinal Hayes High School John Cardinal
Spellman Award (1993). As an undergraduate, he was awarded the City
College of New York Class of 1938 Athletic Service Award.
- After graduating from Rutgers University, Runco worked
for a year as a research hydrologist conducting ground water surveys for
the U.S. Geological Survey on Long Island, New York. In 1977, he joined
the New Jersey State Police and, after completing training at the New
Jersey State Police Academy, he worked as a New Jersey State Trooper until he
entered the Navy in June 1978. Upon completion of Navy Officer Candidate
School in Newport, Rhode Island, in September 1978, he was commissioned
and assigned to the Navy Oceanographic and Atmospheric Research Lab in
Monterey, California, as a research meteorologist. From April 1981
to December 1983, he served as the Meteorological Officer aboard the
Amphibious Assault Ship USS Nassau (LHA-4). It was during this tour
of duty that he earned his designation as a Naval Surface Warfare
Officer and Officer of the Deck. From January 1984 to December
1985, he worked as a laboratory instructor at the Naval Postgraduate
School in Monterey, California.
From December 1985 to December 1986, he served as Commanding Officer of
the Naval Survey Vessel USNS Chauvenet (T-AGS 29), and conducted
hydrographic and oceanographic surveys of the Java Sea and Indian
Ocean. His last assignment within the Navy was as Fleet Environmental
Services Officer, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Runco joined NASA in 1987.
- Selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate
in June 1987, Runco qualified for assignment as an astronaut mission
specialist in August of 1988. His technical assignments to date include
having served in Operations Development, where he assisted in the design,
development and testing of the Space Shuttle crew escape system; in
Mission Support, at the Software Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL),
where he performed test and evaluation of Space Shuttle mission-specific
flight software; at the Kennedy Space Center, as astronaut support,
where he assisted in preparing Space Shuttle missions for launch, and
in the Mission Control Center as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM). A
veteran of three space flights, STS-44 in 1991, STS-54 in 1993 and STS-77
in 1996, Runco has logged over 551 hours in space.
On his first flight, Runco served on the crew of STS-44 aboard Space
Shuttle Atlantis which launched on the night of November 24, 1991.
The primary mission objective was accomplished with the successful
deployment of a Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite. In addition,
the crew conducted two Military Man-in-Space experiements, three
radiation monitoring experiments, and numerous medical tests in support
of long duration space flights. The mission was concluded after completing
110 orbits of the Earth. Atlantis returned to a landing on the lakebed at
Edwards Air Force Base, California, on December 1, 1991. Mission duration
was 6 days, 22 hours and 50 minutes.
Runco next served as a mission specialist on the crew of STS-54
aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. STS-54 (January 13-19, 1993)
launched and landed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The six-day mission featured the deployment of a $200-million
NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-F). Also carried
in the payload bay was the Diffuse X-Ray Spectrometer (DXS).
This astronomical instrument scanned the local vicinity of the
Milky Way galaxy in the direction of the Constellation Orion
recording the low-energy X-ray emanations believed to originate
from the plasma remnants of an ancient nearby supernova. The
data collected by DXS will help scientists better understand
stellar evolution. Crewmate Greg Harbaugh and Runco also became
the 47th and 48th Americans to walk in space during a 4.5-hour
space walk designed to evaluate the limits of human performance
during extravehicular activities (EVA). The flight also conducted
several medical and scientific experiments. Included in these were
investigations to better understand the human immune system's response
to cancer. The crew also demonstrated the physics principles of
everyday toys to an interactive audience of elementary school
students across the United States. Mission duration was 5 days,
23 hours and 38 minutes.
Runco most recently served as a mission specialist on the crew of
STS-77 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour (May 19-29, 1996.
STS-77 carried a number of technology development experiments
as well as a suite of microgravity science experiments. The
technology development experiments included two deployable
satellites both of which were deployed by Runco. For the deploy
of the Spartan/Inflatable Antenna Experiment Runco was the Remote
Manipulator System operator. The other deployable was a small
Satellite Test Unit (STU) which would use residual atmospheric
drag and the Earth's magnetic field for attitude stabilization.
STS-77 also featured the fourth flight of a SpaceHab module as
an experiment laboratory. Mission duration was 10 days and 39
- Runco is currently assigned to the
Payloads and Habitability Branch of the Astronaut Office to work
payloads and habitability issues for both Space Shuttle and
International Space Station operations.
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