For the second to final speaker series this season at the Winter Park Institute, learn more about the interesting life and varied successes of astronaut Story Musgrave.
This article originally appeared in Winter Park Magazine’s summer 2017 issue. It is republished here with permission.
Story Musgrave, the most educated astronaut ever, is the only person to have flown on all five space shuttles. Most notably, he was the lead spacewalker on Endeavor, from which he made repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Astronauts, simply by virtue of their being astronauts, are assumed to be braver and smarter than most of us. What, then, to make of Story Musgrave, who retired from NASA in 1997? He’s the only astronaut to have flown on all five space shuttles. And, prior to John Glenn’s return to space in 1998, he held the record for being the oldest person to orbit the earth, at age 61.
If that weren’t enough, he’s also the most educated astronaut ever, with a medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons—he’s a specialist in physiology and aerospace medicine—as well as an MBA in operations analysis and computer programming from the University of California, Los Angeles.
And then there’s an MA in physiology and biophysics from the University of Kentucky and an MA in literature from the University of Houston. Oh, and there are also 20 honorary doctorates.
All those eclectic degrees make more sense when you consider that Musgrave’s hobbies include literary criticism and poetry as well as microcomputers, parachuting, hang gliding, and scuba diving.
Musgrave, a native of Massachusetts who was raised in Kentucky, wasn’t a particularly bookish youngster. As a child, he sought solace from family dysfunction by exploring nature, which he described as “a place in which there was beauty; a place in which there was order.”
He dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Marines during the Korean War. Over the next 58 years, while simultaneously accumulating all those degrees, Musgrave racked up more than 18,000 hours as a pilot and experienced more than 800 free falls as a parachutist. Many of those death-defying jumps were experiments related to the study of human aerodynamics.
He was an astronaut for more than three decades and performed the first spacewalk on space shuttle Challenger’s first flight. He was also the lead spacewalker on Endeavor, from which he performed repairs on the Hubble Space Telescope.
“People love Hubble images,” Musgrave said. “It tells them where they’re from; it tells them where they’re going. It ties it all together.”
Today, Musgrave is a consultant to Walt Disney Imagineering, a multimedia producer and director, a landscape architect, and a professor of design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He’s also an in-demand speaker on topics related to design-driven innovation, project management, and human performance.
Farm Kid to Rocket Man and Beyond: Personal Exploration, Excellence and Evolution
Tuesday, March 6, 7:30 p.m.
Ticket prices: $10-$25
Rollins faculty, staff, and students receive free admission to Winter Park Institute events. Faculty and staff members can request two free tickets, and Rollins students can request one free ticket. To reserve your tickets, contact the Rollins box office at BoxOffice@rollins.edu or 407-646-2145.