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Robert Allan Ridley Parker (born December 14, 1936) is an American physicist and astronomer, former Director of the NASA Management Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and a retired NASA astronaut. He was a Mission Specialist on two Space Shuttle missions, STS-9 and STS-35.

He has logged over 3,500 hours flying time in jet aircraft and 463 hours in space.[citation needed]


Early lifeEdit

Parker was born December 14, 1936, in New York City, but grew up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He attended primary and secondary schools in Shrewsbury. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Astronomy and Physics from Amherst College in 1958, and a Doctorate in Astronomy from the California Institute of Technology in 1962. Prior to his selection for astronaut training, Parker was an associate professor of Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[citation needed]

NASA careerEdit

S035 Parker

Parker points instruments on ASTRO-1 on Columbia's aft flight deck during STS-35

Parker was selected as a scientist-astronaut by NASA in August 1967. He was a member of the Astronaut Support Crews for the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, and served as program scientist for the Skylab program Director's Office during the three manned Skylab flights.[citation needed]

From March 1988 to March 1989, Parker was stationed at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. where he served as Director of the Space Flight/Space Station Integration Office.[citation needed]

A veteran of two Spacelab missions, Parker was a Mission Specialist on STS-9/Spacelab-1 (28 November–8 December 1983) and on STS-35 (2–10 December 1990); which featured the ASTRO-1 ultraviolet astronomy laboratory.[citation needed]

Post-NASA careerEdit

Parker was director of the Division of Policy and Plans for the Office of Space Flight at NASA Headquarters from January 1991 to December 1991. From January 1992 to November 1993, he was director of the Spacelab and Operations Program. From December 1993 to August 1997 he was manager of the Space Operations Utilization Program. In August 1997, Parker was named director of the NASA Management Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Parker retired from NASA on August 31, 2005.[citation needed]

Personal lifeEdit

Parker married the former Judy Woodruff of San Marino, California. They have five children and nine grandchildren, the most memorable of which are Cole, Cam, and Andy.[citation needed]

Honors and membershipsEdit

Parker is a member of the American Astronomical Society and of the International Astronomical Union.[citation needed]

He was awarded the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (1973) and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (1974).[citation needed]


Parker was a contributor to the book, NASA's Scientist-Astronauts by David Shayler and Colin Burgess.[citation needed]

In the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, Parker was portrayed by Chris Ellis.[citation needed]


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