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U.S. Astronaut Jerry L. Ross:
World Record Seven Space Flights

NASA photo of Astronaut Jerry L. Ross
Click for 102k NASA photo of Astronaut Jerry Ross
When U.S. space shuttle Atlantis blasted off on flight STS-110 on April 8, 2002, 54-year-old retired Air Force colonel Jerry L. Ross set a world record. The flight was the astronaut's seventh to orbit above Earth.

During the flight, Ross performed his eighth and ninth spacewalks. He has spent a total of 44 hours outside of a spacecraft in the vacuum of space. That's more time than any other American. The total adds up to four percent of his accumulated time in orbit.

Ross has been laboring as an outer space construction worker since 1985. Most recently, during flight STS-110, Ross installed a 44-ft. girder and cargo railway on International Space Station Alpha some 200 miles above Earth.

Here is NASA's recollection of Jerry Ross' space flights:

red push pin dingbat Atlantis flight STS 61-B was launched at night from Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, on November 26, 1985. During the mission the crew deployed the MORELOS-B, AUSSAT II, and SATCOM Ku-2 communications satellites, and operated numerous other experiments. Ross conducted two 6-hour space walks to demonstrate Space Station construction techniques with the EASE/ACCESS experiments. After completing 108 orbits of the Earth in 165 hours, 4 minutes, 49 seconds STS 61-B Atlantis landed on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on December 3, 1985.

red push pin dingbat Atlantis flight STS-27, launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on December 2, 1988. The mission carried a Department of Defense payload, as well as a number of secondary payloads. After 68 orbits of the earth in 105 hours, 6 minutes, 19 seconds, the mission concluded with a dry lakebed landing on Runway 17 at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on December 6, 1988.

red push pin dingbat Atlantis flight STS-37, launched from KSC on April 5, 1991, and deployed the 35,000 pound Gamma Ray Observatory. Ross performed two space walks totaling 10 hours and 49 minutes to manually deploy the stuck Gamma Ray Observatory antenna and to test prototype Space Station Freedom hardware. After 93 orbits of the Earth in 143 hours, 32 minutes, 44 seconds, the mission concluded with a landing on Runway 33, at Edwards Air Force Base, on April 11, 1991.

red push pin dingbat Columbia flight STS-55 took place from April 26, 1993 through May 6, 1993. Ross served as Payload Commander/Mission Specialist on STS-55 aboard the Orbiter Columbia. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, Runway 22, after 160 orbits of the Earth in 239 hours and 45 minutes. Nearly 90 experiments were conducted during the German-sponsored Spacelab D-2 mission to investigate life sciences, material sciences, physics, robotics, astronomy, and the Earth and its atmosphere.

red push pin dingbat Atlantis flight STS-74 was NASA's second Space Shuttle mission to rendezvous and dock with the Russian Space Station Mir. STS-74 launched on November 12, 1995, and landed at Kennedy Space Center on November 20, 1995. During the 8 day flight the crew aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis attached a permanent docking module to Mir, conducted a number of secondary experiments, and transferred 1-1/2 tons of supplies and experiment equipment between Atlantis and the Mir station. The STS-74 mission was accomplished in 129 orbits of the Earth, traveling 3.4 million miles in 196 hours, 30 minutes, 44 seconds.

red push pin dingbat Endeavour flight STS-88, from December 4-15, 1998, was the first International Space Station assembly mission. During the 12-day mission the U.S.-built Unity module was mated with the Russian Zarya module. Ross performed three spacewalks totaling 21 hours 22 minutes to connect umbilicals and attach tools/hardware. The crew also deployed two satellites, Mighty Sat 1 and SAC-A. The mission was accomplished in 185 orbits of the Earth in 283 hours and 18 minutes.

red push pin dingbat Atlantis flight STS-110 from April 8-19, 2002, during which Ross flew his world record seventh flight to orbit.

Purdue engineers. Ross is from Crown Point, Indiana. In 1970, he became an engineer at Indiana's Purdue University that also had produced Neil Armstrong, Gene Cernan, Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee.

Ross entered the astronaut corps at Johnson Space Center in 1980 dreaming of flying to Mars. That was one year before the first shuttle flight in 1981. Ross made his own first space voyage on the 23rd shuttle flight in 1985.

During Ross' 1985 flight, hot gas seeped through the first layer of the rocket booster's O-ring seals during launch. That incident foreshadowed the shuttle Challenger flight just two months later that exploded, killing all seven astroanuts on board.

Astronaut's family. Ross' family is involved with his space flight. Karen, his spouse, helps prepare the meals that Ross and other astronauts eat while flying in space as well as when they are down on Earth before and after flights. Ross's daughter Amy works on spacesuits and has applied to be an astronaut. She helped design the gloves Ross wore during his 1998 flight. Ross's son Scott manages an auto service center.

NASA photo of Astronaut Lee Morin, M.D.
Lee Morin
What did Ross eat in space during STS-110? His dinner on the first day of flight included an irradiated beef steak, reconstituted potatoes au gratin and broccoli au gratin, and real shortbread cookies and candy coated peanuts. He drank two lemonades.    other meals

146 astronauts. NASA employed 146 astroanuts at the time of Ross' seventh space flight. The six flying with Ross on the STS-110 mission were Stephen N. Frick, pilot; Ellen Ochoa, flight engineer; Michael J. Bloomfield, mission commander; and mission specialists Steven L. Smith, Rex J. Walheim, and Lee M.E. Morin.    STS-110 crew

Grandfathers in space. Morin, 49, a Navy doctor, accompanied Ross on both of his STS-110 spacewalks. The two were the first pair of grandfathers to make a spacewalk.

NASA photo of Astronaut Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, Ph.D.
Franklin Chang-Diaz
Sharing the honor. Astronaut Franklin R. Chang-Diaz, 51, a Costa Rican-born physicist, was scheduled to make his seventh spaceflight on the next shuttle flight -- Endeavour STS-111 trip to the ISS in May-June 2002.

Six spaceflights. A few astronauts have made six spaceflights from Earth, including the legendary John Young who was the ninth human on the Moon and the first to fly in a space shuttle. If you were to count Young's liftoff from the Moon to return to Earth during the Apollo 16 mission, he, too, would have made seven space launches.

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