Don's Bio

Don first got interested in becoming an astronaut when he was six years old.  Watching the early astronauts like Alan Shepard, John Glenn, and Neil Armstrong blasting off into space made him want to follow in their footsteps. And thirty three years later he would do exactly that.

Don started his professional career as a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at the Bell Laboratory’s Engineering Research Center in Princeton, NJ working on materials issues in semiconductor devices.  From there he joined Lockheed Sciences and Engineering in Houston, TX as an engineer working on the Space Shuttle program.

Selected as a mission specialist astronaut in NASA’s 13th group of astronauts in 1990, he is a veteran of four Space Shuttle missions, three aboard Columbia and one aboard Discovery.  He has spent 44 days in space completing nearly 700 orbits of the Earth and traveling 17.6 million miles in the process. Today he is the director of the Hackerman Academy of Mathematics and Science at Towson University working to encourage and inspire young students to follow in his footsteps to become our next generation of scientists, engineers, astronauts, and explorers.

Official NASA Biography:


Quick Facts About Don

Cleveland Heights High School

High School Diploma, 1973

Case Western Reserve University
Bachelor of Science Physics, 1977

Cornell University
Master of Science, Materials Science, 1980

Cornell University
Doctorate, Materials Science, 1982

STS-65 Columbia (July 8-23, 1994)
During this International Microgravity Science (IML-2) Spacelab mission the crew completed over 80 different experiments from around the world looking into the effects of zero-gravity. This mission set a new flight duration record for the Space Shuttle program. The mission was accomplished in 236 orbits of the Earth traveling 6.1 million miles in 353 hours and 55 minutes.

STS-70 Discovery (July 13-22, 1995)
During the STS-70 mission, Don was responsible for the deployment of the sixth and final Tracking and Data Relay Satellite from the Space Shuttle. 

STS-83 Columbia (April 4-8, 1997)

The STS-83 Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1) Spacelab mission, was cut short because of problems with one of the Shuttle’s three fuel cell power generation units.

STS-94 Columbia (July 1-17, 1997)
STS-94 was a re-flight of the Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1) Spacelab mission, and focused on materials and combustion science research in microgravity. Mission duration was 376 hours and 45 minutes, traveling 6.3 million miles in 251 orbits of the Earth.