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ON JAMES DUTTON:

An official NASA video interview with Eugene astronaut James Dutton after his Spring 2010 Space Shuttle mission. Here's a print interview from before the mission as well.

ON DON PETTIT:

Silverton astronaut Donald Pettit is famous as a "science guy" -- if you were going to get stuck at the Space Station for six months with anyone, you'd want it to be him.

In this video, Pettit demonstrates a special coffee cup he's invented for drinking liquids in space.

Here's another video, by NPR's Science Friday program, in which Pettit uses candy corn to demonstrate how soap molecules work.

Pettit's recreational science experiments got so famous, NASA set up a special Web site for them, called "Don Pettit Space Chronicles." There are 19 articles and 10 videos on topics like making globs of water in space and drinking tea with chopsticks.

ON DAVID GRIGGS:

Here's a 23-minute video made by the astronauts of the 1985 Space Shuttle Discovery mission that included Portland astronaut David Griggs.

ON STANLEY LOVE:

This video, from the AP, shows Eugene astronaut Stanley Love on a spacewalk during the Atlantis mission of February 2008.

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Offbeat Oregon History: Album cover art

Oregon's contribution to space program nothing to sneeze at

An Oregon astronaut holds the record for time spent in space. Another peformed the first unscheduled spacewalk. And a third was a participant in NASA's first public love triangle.

Trips into space barely make the news any more, so you might not have even noticed. But early last month when the Space Shuttle blasted off, the latest in an impressive string of Oregon astronauts was at the controls. (Another crew member was almost an Oregonian. She’s a teacher from just across the river, in Vancouver, Wash.)

Oregon’s list of astronauts can’t compare to New York’s 25, nor – on a per-capita basis – to North Dakota’s two. But it’s nothing to sneer at. There have been a surprising number of them over the years. Here is a list:

James P. Dutton
James P. Dutton

Col. James P. Dutton Jr., USAF, born 1968:

Just returned from his third Space Shuttle mission, on which he served as pilot. Dutton is a Eugene native; he and his wife, Erin, have four boys. He graduated at the top of his class at the Air Force Academy, has been a test pilot and flew combat missions in an F-15 in Iraq. “Jimmy” Dutton also took Len Casanova’s 1958 Rose Bowl ring with him into space.

 

Donald Pettit
Donald Pettit

Donald R. Pettit, Ph.D., born 1955:

One of several astronauts with Oregon State University connections (B.S., chemical engineering, 1978). Pettit is a native of Silverton and is a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory; he’s married, with two children. He’s been on two space flights, including one that took him to the International Space Station in November 2002 – where he lived for five and a half months. Pettit has spent more time in outer space than most people have spent in their own back yards.

 

David Griggs
S. David Griggs

Rear Admiral S. David Griggs, USNR, born 1939:

A native of Portland, Griggs flew combat missions from aircraft carriers in A-4s in Vietnam and later flew A-7s and F-8s. At NASA in the early 1970s he was part of the engineering team that produced the Space Shuttle and on a space flight in 1983 he performed the first unscheduled spacewalk in history. He died in a plane crash in 1989 while flying a World War II-era training plane in Arkansas.

 

Stanley G. Love
Stanley G. Love

Stanley G. Love, Ph.D., born 1965:

Love is a native of San Diego, but grew up in Eugene and considers it his hometown; he is married, with two children. He is a scientist with a strong background studying the behavior of bodies in space – from dust particles to asteroids – and spacecraft propulsion. He has been on Mission Control for seven launches and, in 2008, went on one himself, performing two spacewalks.

 

William Oefelein
William Oefelein

Cmdr. William Oefelein, USN, born 1965:

A native of Anchorage, Alaska, but a graduate of Oregon State (electrical engineering, 1988), Oefelein has two children. Oefelein is a Navy test pilot and graduate of the TOPGUN program. He’s logged more than 300 hours in space. In 2007 NASA was severely embarrassed (and the public learned more than it ever wanted to know about how astronauts handle “bathroom business” during launches) when his former girlfriend, fellow astronaut Lisa Nowak, was accused of driving hundreds of miles to attempt an assault on his then-current girlfriend (now fiancee), Colleen Shipman. Oefelein and Nowak became the first and only astronauts ever fired from NASA. Today Oefelein and Shipman operate a writing and consulting service called Adventure Write (www.adventurewrite.com).

Almost-Oregonian astronauts

Over the years there have been a number of almost-astronauts and astronauts who have been related to Oregon by marriage. Ellen Ochoa, Ph.D., a veteran of four space flights and now deputy director of Johnson Space Center, is originally from California but is married to Coe Fulmer Miles of Molalla. Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, the Vancouver schoolteacher from the last Shuttle mission, is almost an Oregonian, and is married to a Pendleton man. And then there’s Donald L. Cram of Merced, Calif., who in 1961 as a student at Oregon State University spent 24 hours in a full-scale model of the Mercury space capsule that would shortly carry John Glenn into orbit. The experiment included various medico-scientific paraphernalia attached to him, measuring things like heart rate and galvanic skin response, to gauge his response to such confinement. Through a small window, visitors on campus for Dads’ Day could peek in and see how he was doing. “I felt like a monkey in a cage,” he told a reporter afterward.

All in all, other states may have contributed more astronauts to the space program. But Oregon’s role over the years has been substantial, vital – and far from boring.

(Editor's Note: This article dates from early 2010, and has become outdated with surprising speed since then. The most obvious anachronism is the part about Don Pettit's space record — he's been on two more space missions since then, and very interesting ones at that. In addition, since this article was released the entire Space Shuttle program has been sunsetted, and Oefelein and Shipman are now married, not just engaged. You'll find other minor items as well.)

(Sources: Williams, Anne. “Our Astronaut,” Eugene Register-Guard, April 6, 2010; Edmonston, George Jr. OSU’s First ‘Astronaut’, osualum.com; www11.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/astrobio.html)

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