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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058

Biographical Data

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. (1959).

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 photography.

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 [athletic honors],

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 of astronauts.

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.


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