Aerospace Day provides look at bringing space into the classroom

Posted: Monday, 10 November 2008

DOTHAN – Troy University’s Wiregrass Math and Science Consortium will have its 5th Annual Aerospace Day on Nov. 21 in Sony Hall on the Dothan Campus.

The free event provides area teachers with ideas to incorporate aerospace into classroom learning, said Sandy Armstrong, a coordinator for the program.

Highlighting this year’s program is Alabama’s first astronaut Hank Hartsfield, a Birmingham native who went on to serve NASA in both military and civilian capacities.

In addition to Hartsfield’s lecture, the event gives Wiregrass aerospace teachers a chance to network and concurrent sessions are offered with aerospace specialists from the Civil Air Patrol and Marshall Spaceflight Center.

The day begins at 8:30 a.m. and continuing education units are available. For more information, or to register, contact Armstrong at

About Hank Hartsfield

Henry Warren “Hank” Hartsfield Jr. was born November 21 in Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from West End High School. He went on to Auburn University where he earned his bachelor of science in physics. He earned an air Force commission through the ROTC program. He served with the 53rd Tactical Fighter Squadron in Bitburg, Germany. He completed the USAF test Pilot School at Edwards Air force Base and continued there as an instructor until he was assigned to the Manned Orbiting Library Program as an astronaut in 1966. In 1969 he became an astronaut for NASA and served on the support crew for Apollo 16 and for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Skylab missions. He completed a master of science in engineering science at the University of Tennessee in 1971. He continued as a civilian astronaut with NASA where he developed the space shuttle entry control system, after his retirement from the Air force in 1977.

Hartsfield was a backup pilot on shuttle missions STS-2 and STS-3. His first spaceflight was as the pilot of the Columbia on mission STS-4 in June 1982. He commanded the Discovery maiden flight (STS-41-D) in August 1984 and STS-61-A, a 12-man Challenger mission which carried Spacelab D-1 into orbit in October 1985.

In 1986 Hartsfield was promoted to Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office and, a year later to Deputy Director of flight Crew Operations at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. In 1989 he accepted a temporary assignment to Director of Technical Integration and Analysis at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. His task was to oversee coordination of International Space Station missions with space shuttle capabilities.

In 1990 he took another temporary position, this time a Deputy Manager of Operations in the Space Station Projects Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1991 he returned to Johnson Space Center to oversee aspects of the Space Station Freedom Program. In December 1993 he became the manager of the International Space Station Independent Assessment, a responsibility which was expanded in 1996 with assessment of the Human Exploration and development of Space (HEDS) Enterprise.

Hartsfield has been awarded the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, the Gen. Thomas D. White Space Trophy for 1973, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award (1982), two NASA Distinguished service Medals (1982,1988), three NASA Space flight Medals (1982, 1984, 1985) and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1988). He is a member of the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame, and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of fame in 2006. He is married to the former Judy Frances Massey of Princeton, North Carolina and has two daughters.