George David Low (February 19, 1956 – March 15, 2008) was an American aerospace executive and a NASA astronaut. He was born in 1956 to Dr. George Low, the Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office. With undergraduate degrees in physics and mechanical engineering and a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics, he worked in the JPL at the California Institute of Technology in the early 80's, before being picked as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1984. In addition to holding some technical assignments, he logged more than 700 hours in space (including stints on the Columbia, the Atlantis and the Endeavour), before he left NASA in 1996 to pursue a career in the private sector.
Low was born February 19, 1956, in Cleveland, Ohio and was active in the Boy Scouts of America where he achieved its second highest rank, Life Scout. He was married to the former JoAnn Andochick of Weirton, West Virginia. They had three children Maggie, Chris, and Abigail. He enjoyed tennis, lacrosse, scuba diving, running, and spending time with his family. His mother, Mrs. Mary Ruth Low, died in 2011. His father, Dr. George M. Low, Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, in 1968 proposed that Apollo 8 fly around the moon. His widow's parents, Mike and JoAnn Andochick, reside in Weirton, WV.
Low graduated from Langley High School, McLean, Virginia, in 1974; received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics-Engineering from Washington & Lee University in 1978, a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1980, and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University in 1983. He also went to Harvard and Johns Hopkins.
- Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics;
- Member of Omicron Delta Kappa.
- Member of Phi Kappa Sigma.
Awards and honorsEdit
- NASA Space Flight Medals (3)
- NASA Exceptional Service Medal
- NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
- honorary doctorate of engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Low worked in the Spacecraft Systems Engineering Section of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, from March 1980 until June 1984. During that time he was involved in the preliminary planning of several planetary missions, an Autonomous Spacecraft Maintenance study, and the systems engineering design of the Galileo spacecraft. Following a one-year leave to pursue graduate studies, Low returned to JPL where he was the principal spacecraft systems engineer for the Mars Geoscience/Climatology Orbiter mission.
Selected by NASA in May 1984 as an astronaut candidate, Low became an astronaut in June 1985. He held a variety of technical assignments including work on the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), on Extra-vehicular activity (EVA), and Orbiter test and checkout tasks at the Kennedy Space Center. Low served as a spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) in the Mission Control Center during STS Missions 26, 27, 29 and 30. He also served as the lead astronaut in the Man-Systems Group and Station Operations Group of the Space Station Support Office. In 1993, Low was a member of the Russian Integration Team which worked for several months in Crystal City, Virginia to define the changes from the old Space Station Freedom to the new International Space Station. In 1994, he served as the Manager of the EVA Integration and Operations Office, and in 1995 he served as an assistant in the NASA Legislative Affairs Office where he worked with Members of the United States Congress and their staffs to keep them informed about NASA's aeronautics and space programs. A veteran of three space flights, Low logged over 714 hours in space, including nearly six hours on a spacewalk. He was a mission specialist on STS-32 (January 9–20, 1990) and STS-43 (August 2–11, 1991), and was the payload commander on STS-57 (June 21 to July 1, 1993).
On his first mission, Low was a crew member on STS-32 which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on January 9, 1990. On board the Orbiter Columbia the crew successfully deployed the Syncom IV-F5 communications satellite, and retrieved the 21,400-pound Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) using the RMS. They also operated a variety of middeck materials and life sciences experiments, as well as the IMAX camera. Following 173 orbits of the Earth in 261 hours, Columbia returned to a night landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on January 20, 1990.
Low next served as the flight engineer aboard the Orbiter Atlantis on STS-43. The nine-day mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on August 2, 1991. During the flight, crew members deployed the fifth Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-E), in addition to conducting 32 physical, material, and life science experiments, mostly relating to the Extended Duration Orbiter and Space Station Freedom. After 142 orbits of the Earth in 213 hours, the mission concluded with a landing on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center on August 11, 1991.
On STS-57, Low served as payload commander aboard the Orbiter Endeavour, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 21, 1993. The primary objective of this flight was the retrieval of the European Retrievable Carrier satellite (EURECA) using the RMS. Additionally, this mission featured the first flight of Spacehab, a commercially-provided middeck augmentation module for the conduct of microgravity experiments. Spacehab carried 22 individual flight experiments in materials and life sciences research. During the mission Low, along with crew mate Peter J.K. Wisoff, conducted a 5-hour, 50-minute spacewalk during which the EURECA communications antennas were manually positioned for latching, and various extravehicular activity (EVA) tools and techniques were evaluated for use on future missions. Endeavour landed at the Kennedy Space Center on July 1, 1993, after 155 orbits of the Earth in 239 hours.
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