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Kansas has three spacecraft astronauts among its natives, and at least one other who became a Kansan after his spaceflight career -- as well as others who are "sort of" astronauts:



  • Ron Evans
  • Joe Engle
  • Steve Hawley


  • C. D. Gemar


(original candidates for Mercury 7 team):

  • Capt. Edward Joseph Dwight, Jr., USAF - African American
  • Sarah Lee Gorelick (Ratley) - Woman

(Despite high qualifications of many of them, and successful completion of astronaut candidate testing and preliminary training, no African-Americans nor women were selected as astronauts for any Mercury, Gemini or Apollo flight)




Ronald E. Evans

~ Born November 10, 1933, in St. Francis, Kansas.

~ High School: Topeka, Highland Park H.S.

~ College: Univ. of Kansas, BS in Electrical Engineering, 1956

~ Died: April 6, 1990, in Scottsdale, Arizona

- Total flight time accrued during his career is 5,100 hours, including 4,600 hours in jet aircraft, and 301 hours in space:

  • "Apollo 17" Command Module Pilot, December 6-19, 1972, the last manned flight to the moon.

    - (Evans holds the record of more time in lunar orbit than anyone else in the world -- 147 hours, 48 minutes -- on the longest manned lunar-landing flight: 301 hours, 51 minutes.)


Joe Henry Engle

~Born: 26 Aug 1932, in Dickinson County, Kansas,

~College: Univ. of Kansas, B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering, 1956.

- General Engle has flown over 185 different types of aircraft including 38 different fighter and attack aircraft. He has logged more than 14,700 flight hours - 9,900 in jets and over 224 hours in space:

  • Space Shuttle prototype "Enterprise" Commander (multiple atmospheric test flights; air-launched from Boeing 747)
  • Space Shuttle "Columbia" Commander, STS-2 (2nd Shuttle flight), 12 Nov 1981

    (becoming the first and only pilot to manually fly an aerospace vehicle from Mach 25 to landing.)

  • Space Shuttle "Discovery" Commander, STS-51I, 27 Aug 1985


Steve Hawley

~ Born: December 12, 1951, in Ottawa, Kansas

~ Hometown: Salina, Kansas

~ High School: Salina (Central) High School, Salina, Kansas, graduated 1969;

~ College: Univ. of Kansas, B.A. degrees in physics & Astronomy (graduating with highest distinction), 1973; Univ. of California, Ph.D. in astronomy & astrophysics, 1977.

- Dr. Hawley has logged a total of 770 hours and 27 minutes in five space flights. He served as a mission specialist on:

  • - Space Shuttle "Discovery":

    - - STS-41D in 1984,

    - - STS-31 in 1990,

    - - STS-82 in 1997,

  • - Space Shuttle "Columbia":

    - - STS-61C in 1986,

    - - STS-93 in 1999.

Dr. Hawley is (as of 2011) a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas.




C. D. Gemar

- Gemar has flown three times and has logged over 580 hours in space in three space flights. He served as a mission specialist on:

  • Space Shuttle "Atlantis":

    - - STS-38 (November 15-20, 1990)

  • Space Shuttle "Discovery":

    - - STS-48 (September 12-18, 1991)

  • - Space Shuttle "Columbia":

    - - STS-62 (March 4-18, 1994).

(Gemar later became a test pilot for a jet aircraft manufacturer in Wichita)



A WOMAN and an AFRICAN-AMERICAN -- both natives of the Kansas City, Kansas area -- were among the few dozen "eligible" astronaut candidates screened for the initial Mercuryastronaut program:


Capt. Edward Joseph Dwight, Jr., USAF

(Air Force jet flight instructor pilot; one of the 8 graduates from his USAF test pilot school class specifically recommended without reservation by the astronaut selection board for astronaut training -- of whom only 2 were selected.)


Sarah Lee Gorelick (Ratley)

(One of the "tested-and-qualified" "Mercury 13" women; At 28, she held a commercial pilot's license, with airplane single and multi-engine land ratings, single engine sea, instrument, rotor and glider ratings, with aircraft racing experience. Electrical engineer with mathematics degree, plus minors in physics & chemistry.)


NOTE: During that time (1960s), before the general acceptance of America's civil rights and womens' movements, strong opposition to including women and African-Americans was widespread in America's political, military and spaceflight establishments. No black or female candidates were selected as astronauts for any of the Mercury, Gemini or Apollo missions.

~ R.Harris / Kansas Avaition Centennial Cmte.

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โˆ™ 2011-10-19 08:45:20
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Apollo Moon Missions

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