Musical Selection "Outward Bound" by Harry Roberts
Story Musgrave is one of NASA's most experienced astronauts.
With a 30 year career spanning the Apollo era of the 1960s right through to the
Space Shuttle program of the 1990s, he is the only astronaut to have flown on all five
Space Shuttles. He is also a pilot, surgeon, mechanic, poet and philosopher.
The experiences of a small child
growing up on a 1000 acre dairy farm in Massachusetts provided a foundation
for Story's fascination with machinery as well as his extraordinary love of
nature. Born 19 August 1935 during the Great Depression, by the age of 10,
Story was already operating and repairing tractors and farm machinery. However,
in a childhood which was marred by alcohol and abuse, Story and his two brothers
led an isolated life, and it was to nature that Story turned to escape the
dysfunctional world around him.
For Story, nature was a place
of beauty and order. From the lakes and rivers teeming with life, the coolness
of freshly ploughed fields, to the wooded magic of the Berkshire Hills, Story
immersed himself in the wonders of nature and thrived on the spiritual experiences
which that brought him.
In 1947, Story entered
St Mark's School at nearby Southborough. Although not particularly focused, and
more interested in escaping out the dormitory window at night to explore what lay
beyond the school's boundaries, he did enjoy looking after the animals and doing
some early reproductive work in biology involving the surgical transplantation of
fertilised eggs. He also enjoyed visits to a neighbouring farm where he learnt to
fly airplanes, taking his first solo flight at age 16.
Story was to leave school shortly before
graduation and before receiving his high school diploma. He joined the US Marine Corps
where from 1953 he trained as an aviation electrician and instrument technician. For
Story, it was an opportunity to see the world beyond the farm and fields of
Massachusetts, and to leave his native America. His love of airplanes well established,
he was to serve as an aircraft crew chief on assignments in Korea, Japan, Hawaii and
on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp in the Far East.
Upon returning to the United States, Story left the Marines and began to further his
education by enrolling at Syracuse University, gaining a Bachelor of Science degree
in mathematics and statistics in 1958. For a brief time he worked as a mathematician
and operations analyst for the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York, before
continuing his studies in California, earning a Masters degree in business administration
and computer sciences at the UCLA.
As a "natural" extension of Story's pursuits in mathematics and computing, he became
interested in the study of the human brain, with a wish to pursue neurophysiology,
neuroanatomy, and neurosurgery.
Story began the journey back to the east coast. He got as far as Marietta, Ohio,
before the aesthetics of the place and his love of the natural surroundings got a
hold of him. He stopped by Marietta College to talk to the local professors and within
hours had enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chemistry - a precursor to enrolling
in medical school.
After completing his studies in chemistry, Story went on to Columbia University, New York,
where he graduated with a Doctorate in medicine in 1964.
After serving his surgical internship at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington,
Story continued as a U.S. Air Force post-doctoral fellow, working in the areas of aerospace
medicine and physiology. He then studied and taught in the areas of cardiovascular and exercise
physiology while a post-doctoral fellow with the National Heart Institute. Story completed a
Master of Science in physiology and biophysics in 1966.
In the early 1960s, NASA began looking for scientists to join the astronaut corps. For Story,
it was an "epiphany" - an incredibly fitting opportunity to use his many qualifications as an
electrician, mathematician, computer programmer, mechanic, pilot and surgeon. It also provided
him with a new way of exploring his universe, his relationship with nature, and the future of
In 1967 Story was one of just 11 people selected from around 4000 applicants. Although he was a
pilot, he joined the astronaut corps as one of NASA's first scientist-astronauts as opposed to
earlier candidates who were selected from the ranks of military test pilots.
In his early years with NASA, Story experienced the excitement and energy of the Apollo program
and subsequent moon landings. He worked on the design and development of the Skylab space station,
serving as backup science pilot for the first Skylab mission, Skylab 2 and was capsule communicator
(CAPCOM) for Skylab 3 and 4.
From 1974 onwards, Story helped design EVA equipment including space suits and life support systems
for the Space Shuttle program and served as mission specialist for two simulated Spacelab flights.
From 1979 he was assigned to the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), testing computer
software and also assisted with servicing design elements of the Hubble Space Telescope.
For Story, it was about a long term commitment to space. It was to be 16 years before he flew his
first space mission. He has always considered space to be his calling, not something he could just
set aside. Through his work he continued to explore the universe, his own place in it, and the meaning
of it to all humanity.
Story's first space flight was aboard the maiden voyage of Challenger in 1983 (STS-6). During the
mission, he and astronaut Don Peterson performed the first space walk of the Space Shuttle program,
testing EVA equipment which he had helped to design over the previous decade, as well as construction
and repair devices and procedures. The crew also deployed the first US/TDRS satellite from a shuttle.
On his second mission aboard Challenger in 1985, STS-51F/Spacelab-2, Story served as systems engineer
for launch and re-entry, and as a pilot during orbit. The mission conducted 13 major experiments in
astronomy, astrophysics and life-sciences and was the first mission to operate the Spacelab Instrument
Pointing System (IPS).
For Story, his experiences in space were the epitome of his childhood exploration and discovery of
nature. It was the child who is totally immersed in a strange and wonderful environment, who finds
new perspective in the experience. For Story, each successive spaceflight was to become richer and
During the years from 1967 through to 1989, Story continued to work as a part-time trauma surgeon
at the Denver General Hospital and as a part-time professor of physiology and biophysics at the
University of Kentucky Medical Center. He also began a decade of study in the humanities and
completed a Master of Arts degree in literature.
Studying the humanities was another way for Story to enrich his experiences of spaceflight and
enhance the quality of his work for the space program. He studied the American and British nature
poets, the philosophies of scholars like Emerson and Thoreau. History and psychology were also an
integral part of Story's ongoing education and he related everything he learnt back to his
experience of spaceflight and the meaning of it all to humanity's destiny in space.
On his third and fourth spaceflights - aboard Discovery (STS-33) in 1989 and Atlantis (STS-44)
in 1991, Story participated in Space Shuttle missions for the Department of Defense. The latter
mission also conducted experiments in radiation-monitoring, as well as medical experiments to
support longer duration space flights.
Story's fifth mission was STS-61 in 1993. He and the crew of Endeavour had trained for over a
year in order to carry out the first major repair and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Work was completed during a record five spacewalks, three of which were performed by Story,
together with fellow astronaut Jeff Hoffman.
The Hubble repair mission was one of the most detailed missions ever prepared for. The crew
trained meticulously for what Story often refers to as "the ballet" - the choreographing of
every single movement, the position of over 300 tools, and learning the dynamics of Hubble's
components moving in zero gravity. It was about the perfection of each individual task and
focusing on the moment to achieve a successful result. During it all, Story did not forget to
look around him, to appreciate the earth view, and to take in the universal perspective from
370 miles above the earth's surface.
STS-80 was to be Story's sixth and final mission as an astronaut. During a record flight of
almost 18 days, the crew aboard Columbia deployed and later retrieved two satellites which
studied the origin and makeup of stars. They also deployed and retrieved the Wake Shield
Facility which was used to grow thin film wafers in a super vacuum for use in semiconductors
and the electronics industry.
During his six space flights, Story recorded 1,281 hours 59 minutes, 22 seconds in space,
in addition to around 25 million miles in orbit. Between missions he served as a CAPCOM
for STS-31, STS-35, STS-36, STS-38 and STS-41, and lead CAPCOM for a number of subsequent
flights, which kept him right up to date with all that was happening.
Over the years Story has flown nearly 18,000 hours in 160 different types of civilian and
military aircraft as pilot, instructor and acrobatics specialist. In addition, he has made
more than 600 private parachute jumps, including over 100 experimental free-fall descents
to study human aerodynamics.
Throughout his career with NASA, Story enriched his experiences with his ongoing studies
and by capturing the essence of spaceflight through a variety of mediums including photography,
poetry and personal experiments. He was the first astronaut to photograph Uluru (Ayer's Rock),
Mt Everest and the Egyptian pyramids from space, and to demonstrate the behaviour of consumer
products like Coca Cola in zero gravity. He also studied the psychological responses of performing
certain tasks in various orientations. On each spaceflight, Story carried a little black book with
typically over one hundred creative things to do in space.
Story retired from NASA in 1997. Today he shares his many unique experiences through performances
across the USA and internationally. He is a popular guest of the Astronaut Encounter Program at
the Kennedy Space Center and also consults for Walt Disney Imagineering and Applied Minds Inc. in
their research and development divisions. He is an advocate and visionary for the continual
exploration of space and the author of numerous scientific papers on a diverse range of topics
including aerospace medicine, exercise physiology, temperature regulation and clinical surgery.
His recreational interests include flying, photography, scuba diving, parachuting, gardening and
Story is the divorced father of six children - Lorelei Lisa, Bradley Scott, Holly Kay,
Christopher Todd, Jefferey Paul (deceased) and Lane Lynwood.
St. Mark's School, Southborough, Massachusetts; a bachelor of science degree in mathematics
and statistics from Syracuse University in 1958, a master of business administration degree
in operations analysis and computer programming from the University of California at Los Angeles
in 1959, a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry from Marietta College in 1960, a doctorate in
medicine from Columbia University in 1964, a master of science in physiology and biophysics
from the University of Kentucky in 1966, and a master of arts in literature from the University
of Houston in 1987.
Member of Alpha Kappa Psi, the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
Beta Gamma Sigma, the Civil Aviation Medical Association, the Flying Physicians Association,
the International Academy of Astronautics, the Marine Corps Aviation Association, the National
Aeronautic Association, the National Aerospace Education Council, the National Geographic
Society, the Navy League, the New York Academy of Sciences, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Delta Theta,
the Soaring Club of Houston, the Soaring Society of America, and the United States Parachute
National Defense Service Medal and an Outstanding Unit Citation as a member of the United States
Marine Corps Squadron VMA-212 (1954); United States Air Force Post-doctoral Fellowship (1965-1966);
National Heart Institute Post-doctoral Fellowship (1966-1967); Reese Air Force Base Commander's
Trophy (1969); American College of Surgeons I.S. Ravdin Lecture (1973); NASA Exceptional Service
Medals (1974 & 1986); Flying Physicians Association Airman of the Year Award (1974 & 1983); NASA
Space Flight Medals (1983, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996); NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1992).
by Anne Lenehan
Berowra, New South Wales