Colorado Astronaut Steve Swanson Retires From NASA

Steve Swanson (center) and his Expedition 40 crewmates wave goodbye to the Expedition 41 crew before closing the hatch to the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA TV

Steve Swanson (center) and his Expedition 40 crewmates wave goodbye to the Expedition 41 crew before closing the hatch to the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA TV

August 13, 2015 – With nearly 200 days of spaceflight experience, Colorado astronaut Steven Swanson has retired from NASA to share his experience and expertise in an academic setting. Swanson will join Boise State University in Boise, Idaho, as a distinguished educator in residence. His last day with NASA is August 30.

“Steve Swanson, or Swanny as we know him, has contributed so much more to the human space program than just serving on his three missions. His infectious laugh, keen intellect and easy going personality have garnered the respect and friendship of everyone with whom he works. He also will be sorely missed on our Wednesday night basketball team!” said Chris Cassidy, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Swanson was born in Syracuse, New York, and considers Steamboat Springs, Colorado, his hometown. He earned a doctorate in computer science from Texas A&M University in College Station, and holds degrees from the University of Colorado in Boulder and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Swanson joined NASA in 1987 as a systems engineer and a flight engineer in the Aircraft Operations Division at Johnson, working on the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA). During his time with the STA, Swanson helped improve the STA’s navigation and control systems and incorporate a real-time wind determination algorithm.

He was selected as an astronaut in May of 1998. He would go on to fly three space missions, including a long-duration mission on the International Space Station. Additionally, he served numerous technical roles within the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations and Robotics branches, as well as serving as a capsule communicator, or capcom.

Swanson flew as a mission specialist for STS-117 on Space Shuttle Atlantis in June 2007 and STS-119 on Space Shuttle Discovery in March 2009. Both missions delivered station truss segments, solar arrays, and other equipment to the station. Swanson conducted two spacewalks on each mission, totaling more than 26 hours of extravehicular activity experience.

Swanson’s final mission was a long duration stay on the station as part of the Expedition 39 and 40 crews in 2014. During his six-month tour of duty aboard the orbiting laboratory, Swanson performed various Earth remote sensing and biology, bone and muscle physiology studies and performed a spacewalk. He assumed command of the station in May 2014 and was commander through his landing on September 10, marking an end to his 169 days in orbit. In total, following his three missions, Swanson accumulated more than 195 days in space.

Astronaut Steve Swanson works during in-flight maintenance to mate electrical connectors in Tranquility's Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA). Image Source: NASA

Astronaut Steve Swanson works during in-flight maintenance to mate electrical connectors in Tranquility’s Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA). Image Source: NASA