[Frank Culbertson] [NASA Logo]
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058

Biographical Data

NAME: Frank L. Culbertson, Jr. (Captain, USN, ret.)
NASA Astronaut

Born May 15, 1949, in Charleston, South Carolina, but considers Holly Hill to be his hometown. Married, June 1987, to the former Rebecca Ellen Dora of Vincennes, Indiana. Five children. He enjoys flying, bicycling, squash, running, golf, camping, photography, music, and water sports. Member of varsity rowing and wrestling teams at USNA. His parents, Dr. and Mrs. Frank Culbertson, Sr., reside in Holly Hill, South Carolina. Her mother, Mrs. Avanelle Vincent Dora, resides in Vincennes, Indiana. Her father, Mr. Robert E. Dora, is deceased.

Graduated from Holly Hill High School, Holly Hill, South Carolina, in 1967; received a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971.

Member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Association of Naval Aviators, Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, the U.S. Naval Institute, the Aviation Boatswains Mate's Association, and the Association of Space Explorers.

Awarded the Navy Flying Cross, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA Space Flight Medals, Navy Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, 3 Meritorious Unit Commendations, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Humanitarian Services Medal, and various other unit and service awards. Distinguished graduate, U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. Awarded Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, College of Charleston, 1994.

Culbertson graduated from Annapolis in 1971 and served aboard the USS Fox (CG-33) in the Gulf of Tonkin for six months prior to reporting to flight training in Pensacola, Florida. After designation as a Naval Aviator at Beeville, Texas, in May 1973, he received training as an F-4 Phantom pilot at VF-121, NAS Miramar, California. From March 1974 to May 1976, he was assigned to VF-151 aboard the USS Midway (CV-41), permanently homeported in Yokosuka, Japan. He subsequently was assigned as an exchange pilot with the USAF at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where he served as Weapons and Tactics Instructor flying F-4C's with the 426th TFTS until September 1978. Culbertson then served as the Catapult and Arresting Gear Officer for the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) until May 1981 when he was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland. Following graduation with distinction in June 1982, he was assigned to the Carrier Systems Branch of the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate where he served as Program Manager for all F-4 testing and as a test pilot for automatic carrier landing system tests in the F-4S, and carrier suitability in the F-4S and the OV-10A. He was engaged in fleet replacement training in the F-14A Tomcat at VF-101, NAS Oceana, Virginia, from January 1984 until his selection for the astronaut candidate program..

He has logged over 5,000 hours flying time in 40 different types of aircraft, and 350 carrier landings.

Selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in May 1984, Culbertson completed basic astronaut training in June 1985 when he qualified for assignment as a pilot on future Space Shuttle flight crews. His first technical assignment was as a member of the team that redesigned and tested the Shuttle nosewheel steering, tires, and brakes, to provide more safety margin during landing rollout. Culbertson was a member of the launch support team at Kennedy Space Center for Shuttle flights 61-A, 61-B, 61-C, and 51-L, and participated in the preparations for the proposed launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in 1986. Following the Challenger accident, he worked at the NASA Headquarters Action Center in Washington, D.C., assisting with the investigations conducted by NASA, the Presidential Commission, and Congress. He was then assigned as lead astronaut at the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) and was involved in the checkout and verification of the computer software and hardware interfaces for STS-26 and subsequent flights. He was lead of the First Emergency Egress Team, which conducts periodic tests of improvements to the Shuttle ground egress systems, and also served as a member of the Astronaut Office Safety Branch. Culbertson's assignment, when named to the STS-38 crew, was as the lead spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) in the Mission Control Center. His duties included communications with the Shuttle crew during ascent and entry and during simulations, and he was on the panel which dealt with procedural problems and flight technique issues between missions. Culbertson was a spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) for seven missions, STS-27, 29,30, 28, 34, 33, and 32. Following his first flight, he served as the Deputy Chief of the Flight Crew Operations Space Station Support Office as well as the lead astronaut for Space Station Safety. In that role he supervised the engineers and astronauts evaluating the design, safety, and operational capabilities of Space Station Freedom. When assigned to STS-51, Culbertson was a member of the team evaluating the proposed mission to dock with the Russian Space Station Mir. He also served as Chief of the Astronaut Office Mission Support Branch and Chief of the Johnson Space Center Russian Projects Office. A veteran of two space flights, Culbertson has logged over 344 hours in space.

On his first mission, Culbertson served as pilot on STS-38. The five-man crew launched at night from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on November 15, 1990. During the five-day mission crew members conducted Department of Defense operations. After 80 orbits of the earth, in the first Shuttle recovery in Florida since 1985, Space Shuttle Atlantis and her crew landed back at the Kennedy Space Center on November 20, 1990. Mission duration was 117 hours, 54 minutes, 28 seconds. in space.

More recently, Culbertson commanded the STS-51 mission aboard the Shuttle Discovery, which launched on September 12, 1993. During the ten day mission the crew of five deployed the U.S. Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS/TOS), and the Shuttle Pallet Satellite (ORFEUS/SPAS) with U.S. and German scientific experiments aboard, including an ultraviolet spectrometer. On flight day five, a seven-hour EVA was conducted to evaluate Hubble Space Telescope repair tools and methods. After the SPAS spacecraft had completed six days of free flight at up to 40 miles from Discovery, the crew completed a successful rendezvous and recovered the SPAS with the Shuttle's robot arm. The mission concluded on September 22, 1993, with the first ever night landing at the Kennedy Space Center. Mission duration was 236 hours, 11 minutes.

Culbertson currently serves as Program Manager, Phase 1 Shuttle/Mir. Phase 1 is a multi-year program, consisting of at least seven Shuttle docking missions to the Russian Space Station Mir, five astronauts spending at least 22 months cumulatively on-board the Mir, and all the associated science and docking hardware to ensure the success of the joint program. Phase 1 will serve as a precursor to the building of the joint International Space Station.

MARCH 1997

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