Veteran NASA astronaut Stephen Robinson has decided to leave the space agency; his final day was on June 30. Robinson spent 36 years with NASA and tallied more than 48 days on orbit and three spacewalks during his time there. Starting in the fall of 2012, Robinson will be a professor for the University of California at Davis.
Robinson’s tenure at NASA began in 1975 when he was selected as a cooperative education student at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Twenty years later he was tapped to become an astronaut. He flew into space four times serving as a mission specialist on each. Robinson flew with STS-85, STS-95 with spaceflight legend John Glenn, the second return-to-flight mission, STS-114 and finally STS-130 in 2012.
It was on STS-114 that Robinson entered the history books. On an unplanned spacewalk Robinson was delivered to the underside of space shuttle Discovery to perform the only in-flight repair to the shuttle’s thermal protection system. Robinson removed two “gap-fillers” that were protruding from between the tiles. On his final mission to orbit, STS-130 Robinson coordinated the installation of both the Tranquility node and the cupola on the International Space Station.
“Steve will be sorely missed by the Astronaut Office,” said Janet Kavandi, director of Flight Crew Operations. “He was a fellow classmate, and I will personally miss his ever-positive attitude and smiling face. We wish him the best in his future endeavors, and we are confident that he will be a positive influence and wonderful mentor to inquisitive minds at the University of California at Davis.”
NASA has seen many of its veteran astronauts depart the agency for either the private sector or academia. Some experts fear that this will leave the space agency without enough experienced personnel to properly conduct the commitments it currently has. Besides keeping the International Space Station properly staffed, NASA needs astronauts to test out many of the new commercial spacecraft that are starting to come online as well as the Orion spacecraft which is hoped to return NASA to the business of space exploration.
For Robinson’s complete biography, visit: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/robinson.htmlMissions » ISS »