By Mary Alys Cherry
Four astronauts have departed NASA in recent days after long years with the space agency, working at the Johnson Space Center, dropping the total number of astronauts to 60 from a high of about 150 in 1999. The four are:
- Clayton Anderson, who ended a 30-year career with NASA to join Iowa State University as an aerospace engineering faculty fellow. The Nebraska native earned his master’s degree from ISU in 1983. Anderson has logged 167 days in space and 38 hours of spacewalks at the International Space Station and completed two space flights.
In 2007, Anderson spent a five-months working aboard the ISS as the flight engineer and performing three space walks and later flew on STS-131 to the space station, where he again performer three spacewalks.
Anderson will work with freshmen aerospace engineering students and help design research projects for the department’s students and faculty. Anderson began his new job in October.
- Gregory H. Johnson left the space agency after a 15-year career that included more than 31 days in space, for a position with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.
A veteran of two space shuttle flights, he served in 2008 as the pilot of STS-123, a mission vital to the construction of the International Space Station. He followed that up two years later as the pilot of STS-134.
Johnson earned an undergraduate degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He later earned graduate degrees from Columbia University and the University of Texas, and served in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot. Johnson flew combat missions during Operations Desert Storm and Southern Watch.
- Gregory Chamitoff is leaving NASA to join the faculty of Texas A&M University in College Station and the University of Sydney in Australia to work on a range of new entrepreneurial and humanitarian efforts.
He began his 18-year NASA career in 1995 as a space shuttle guidance and control officer in mission control at JSC and became an astronaut in 1998. He flew in space twice, in 2008 as a flight engineer and science officer for Expeditions 17 and 18 aboard the International Space Station, and as a mission specialist during STS-134 in 2011, the penultimate shuttle mission to complete assembly of the Space Station and take part in the installation of the Alphamagnetic Spectrometer. He has spent more than 198 days in space.
- Ronald Garan, who joined NASA in 2000, is ending a 13-year career that included more than 178 days in space and four spacewalks. Garan flew in space twice, first in 2008 as a mission specialist on STS-124, and again in 2011 aboard the International Space Station as a flight engineer for Expeditions 27 and 28.
Garan retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 2009 after 25 years of service. He has logged more than 5,000 flight hours in more than 30 aircraft types. He recently served within NASA’s Open Government Initiative.