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Space Community Mourns Loss of Former NASA Astronaut Mike Lounge

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 2, 2011
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The space community is mourning the loss of former NASA astronaut John “Mike” Lounge, a three-time space shuttle veteran who died Tuesday from complications from liver cancer. He was 64.

An astrophysicist and decorated Naval aviator, Lounge made his first shuttle flight aboard Discovery in 1985. He also flew on Discovery’s “return to flight” mission in 1988, the first U.S. human expedition after the loss of Challenger. Lounge made his final flight in 1990 aboard Columbia.

He resigned from NASA in 1991 and went to work for Boeing. In recent years, he was a supporter of the commercial spaceflight industry, volunteering his time to support the effort.

“Mike was a tremendous supporter of the commercial spaceflight industry. The last year and a half he put in countless volunteer hours to support and advocate for all that we are trying to achieve. He was a good friend with a big heart, and he will be missed tremendously. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time,” said Brett Alexander of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.

NASA BIOGRAPHY (as of March 2003)

PERSONAL DATA: Born June 28, 1946, in Denver, Colorado, but considers Burlington, Colorado, to be his hometown. Married. Three children. Recreational interests include jogging, chess, squash, tennis, flying, golfing, and blue grass guitar.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Burlington High School, Burlington, Colorado, in 1964; received a bachelor of science degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1969 and a master of science degree in Astrogeophysics from the University of Colorado in 1970.

ORGANIZATIONS: Associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

SPECIAL HONORS: 6 Navy Air Medals, 3 Navy Commendation Medals (with Combat “V”), the JSC Superior Achievement Award (for service as a member of the Skylab Reentry Team), three NASA Exceptional Service Medals and 3 NASA Space Flight Medals.

EXPERIENCE: Lounge entered on active duty with the United States Navy following graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy and spent the next nine years in a variety of assignments. He completed Naval flight officer training at Pensacola, Florida, went on to advanced training as a radar intercept officer in the F-4J Phantom, and subsequently reported to Fighter Squadron 142 based at Naval Air Station Miramar, California. While with VF-142, he completed a 9-month Southeast Asia cruise aboard the USS ENTERPRISE (participating in 99 combat missions) and a 7-month Mediterranean cruise aboard the USS AMERICA. In 1974, he returned to the U.S. Naval Academy as an instructor in the Physics Department. Lounge transferred to the Navy Space Project Office in Washington, D.C., in 1976, for a two year tour as a staff project office. He resigned his regular United States Navy commission in 1978.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Mr. Lounge has been employed at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center since July 1978. During this time, he worked as lead engineer for Space Shuttle launched satellites, and also served as a member of the Skylab Reentry Flight Control Team. He completed these assignments while with the Payload Operations Division.

Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980, he completed a one year training and evaluation period, and became an astronaut in August 1981. He served as a member of the launch support team at Kennedy Space Center for the STS-1, STS-2, and STS-3 missions. Following his first flight, he was assigned to the first mission to carry the Centaur (cryogenically fueled) upper stage (STS-61F). After the mission was canceled, he participated in Space Station design development. From 1989 thru 1991, Mr. Lounge served as Chief of the Space Station Support Office, representing astronaut interests in Space Station design and operation planning.

A veteran of three space flights, Mike Lounge has logged over 482 hours in space. He was a mission specialist on STS-51I (August 27 to September 3, 1985) and STS-26 (September 29 to October 3, 1988) and was the flight engineer on STS-35 (December 2-10, 1990).

Mr. Lounge resigned from NASA in June 1991. He is currently Director of Space Shuttle and Space Station Program Development for Boeing NASA Systems.

SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-51I Discovery, launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on August 27, 1985. During that mission Mikes duties included deployment of the Australian AUSSAT communications satellite and operation of the Remote Manipulator System (RMS). The crew deployed two other communications satellites, the Navy’s SYNCOM IV-4, and American Satellite Company’s ASC-1, and also performed a successful on-orbit rendezvous and repair of the ailing 15,400 lb. SYNCOM IV-3 satellite. STS-51I completed 112 orbits of the Earth before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on September 3, 1985. Mission duration was 171 hours, 17 minutes, 42 seconds.

STS-26 Discovery, the first flight to be flown after the Challenger accident, 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), which was subsequently carried to orbit by the Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) rocket. They also operated eleven mid- deck experiments. Discovery completed 64 orbits of the Earth before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on October 3, 1988. Mission duration was 97 hours, 57 seconds.

STS-35 Columbia, launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on December 2, 1990. Mike served as flight engineer on this 9-day flight that was dedicated to astronomy. Very exciting observations of the Universe were collected by the ASTRO-1 ultraviolet telescope and by the Broad Band X-Ray Telescope. Columbia completed 142 orbits of the Earth before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on December 10, 1990. Mission duration was 215 hours, 5 minutes, 8 seconds.

MARCH 2003