National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058
NAME: Edward Higgins White II, (Lt. Colonel, USAF)
- NASA Astronaut
- November 14, 1930, San Antonio, Texas;
died January 27, 1967, in the Apollo 204 fire at Cape Kennedy, Florida.
Ed White was the son of Edward H. White.
- White was 5' 11" weighing 176 pounds. He had
reddish-brown hair and brown eyes.
- Ed White attended Western High School in Washington, D.C.
where he excelled in track as 2nd best hurdler in the area for a time. He received
an appointment to West Point where he set the 400-meter hurdles record and nearly
made the 1952 Olympics team. He received a bachelor of science degree from the U.S.
Military Academy (1952); and master of science in aeronautical engineering
from the University of Michigan.
- Married to the former Patricia Eileen Finegan of Washington,
D.C. They met while White was a student at West Point.
- Two children: Edward and Bonnie Lynn.
- Ed White enjoyed handball, squash, swimming, golf and
- Associate member of the Institute of Aerospace Sciences,
Executive Council of the Cub Scouts, Little League assistant coach, vice-president-secretary
of Toastmasters International.
- Tau Beta Pi [engineering honors] and Sigma Delta Psi
- After graduating from West Point, White transferred from the
Army to the Air Force, became a jet pilot and attended the Edwards Air Force Base
Test Pilot School. He was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton,
Ohio. Because he wanted to become an astronaut, he was unhappy about his assignment
to the testing of Air Force cargo planes. However, this was a blessing in disguise.
His test aircraft was a KC-135 which created zero-gravity conditions. He flew about
five hours in weightlessness preparing four of the original seven Mercury astronauts
for spaceflight as well as the two chimpanzees who journied to space before the astronauts.
The assignment assisted Ed White in being selected with the second (nine member) group
- On September 17, 1962 NASA chose White to be one of
the nine out of more than 750 applicants to become an astronaut. in 1962, he was
pilot of Gemini 4 (first American to perform extravehicular activity),
backup command pilot for Gemini 7, and had been selected to be command
module pilot for the first manned Apollo flight. On his EVA flight, Ed White carried
a gold cross, a Star of David, and a St. Christopher medal. He commented, "I took these...
to express...the faith I had,...in the people and the equipment...and...in my God."
On Friday, January 27, 1967, during a routine test of Apollo One's Spacecraft 012, Ed
White, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee perished in a fire on the launch pad. Ed White
would have been among the first three men to launch the Apollo mission to land a man
on the Moon.
ARCHIVAL BIOGRAPHY LAST UPDATED APRIL 1999
Click here to return to the
SPACE EDUCATORS' HANDBOOK HOME PAGE.