[George Nelson] [NASA Logo]
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058

Biographical Data

NAME: George D. "Pinky" Nelson (Ph.D.)
NASA Astronaut

Born July 13, 1950, in Charles City, Iowa; considers Willmar, Minnesota, to be his hometown. His father, Mr. George V. Nelson, lives in Clinton, Iowa.

Blond hair; blue eyes; height: 5 feet 9 inches; weight: 170 pounds.

Graduated from Willmar Senior High School, Willmar, Minnesota, in 1968; received a bachelor of science degree in Physics from Harvey Mudd College in 1972 and a master of science and a doctorate in Astronomy from the University of Washington in 1974 and 1978, respectively.

His wife Susie is from Alhambra, California.

Aimee Tess, April 25, 1972; Marti Ann, February 27, 1975.

He enjoys playing golf, reading, swimming, running, and music.


NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 3 NASA Space Flight Medals, AIAA Haley Space Flight Award, Federation Aeronautique Internationale's V.M. Komarov Diploma.

Dr. Nelson performed astronomical research at the Sacramento Peak Solar Observatory, Sunspot, New Mexico; the Astronomical Institute at Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands; and the University of Gottingen Observatory, Gottingen, West Germany, and at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Boulder, Colorado.

Dr. Nelson was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. He flew as a scientific equipment operator in the WB 57-F earth resources aircraft; served as the Astronaut Office representative in the Space Shuttle Extravehicular Mobility Unit (space suit) development effort. During STS-l he was the photographer in the prime chase plane. He also served as support crewman and CAPCOM for the last two OFT flights, STS-3 and STS-4, and as head of the Astronaut Office Mission Development Group.

Dr. Nelson first flew on STS-41C (April 6-13, 1984). During the seven day flight of Challenger, the crew successfully deployed the Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF); retrieved the ailing Solar Maximum Satellite, repaired it on board the Orbiter, and replaced it in orbit. The mission also included flight testing of Manned Maneuvering Units (MMUs) in two extravehicular activities (EVAs), and operation of the Cinema 360 and IMAX Camera Systems.

He then flew on STS 61-C, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on January 12, and made a night landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on January 18, 1986. During the six day flight of Columbia, the crew deployed the SATCOM KU satellite, and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing.

Dr. Nelson then flew on STS-26, the first flight to be flown after the Challenger accident. The Orbiter Discovery was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on September 29, 1988. During the four day mission, the crew successfully deployed the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-C), and operated eleven middeck science experiments.

With the completion of his third space flight he has logged a total of 411 hours in space, including 10 hours of EVA flight time.


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