The scheduled March 17 launch of Steve Swanson from Cape Kennedy, Fla., to the International Space Station on NASA's space shuttle Atlantis will bring the total number of University of Colorado at Boulder alumni who have flown in space to 17.
Swanson, who was born in Syracuse, N.Y., in 1960 but considers Steamboat Springs, Colo., to be his hometown, graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 1979 and received a bachelor's of science degree in engineering physics from CU-Boulder in 1983. He was selected as a NASA astronaut candidate in August of 1998 and completed astronaut training a year later.
Swanson is slated to conduct one spacewalk and operate the space shuttle and ISS robotic arms during the March mission. The seven-person crew of Atlantis will deliver solar arrays, batteries and associated electronics to the station, setting the stage for additional international laboratories to be added to the facility later this year, according to NASA officials.
After receiving his degree from CU-Boulder's physics department in 1983, Swanson went on to earn a master's degree from Florida Atlantic University and a doctorate from Texas A&M University. Prior to joining NASA, he worked as a software engineer for GTE in Phoenix.
Scott Carpenter, who flew on the Mercury/Aurora 7 mission in 1962, was the first CU-Boulder alumnus to fly in space. Since then, 16 alumni have flown a total of 38 space missions. CU alumnus Ellison Onizuka perished in the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986, and alumna Kalpana Chawla died in the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 2003.
An 18th CU astronaut alumnus, John Herrington from the CU-Colorado Springs campus, flew aboard NASA's space shuttle Endeavour in 2002.