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Purdue Astronauts

To date, 22 Purdue alumni have been chosen for space flight, including Neil A. Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and Eugene A. Cernan, the last man to do so. Two of Purdue's alumni astronauts, Roger B. Chaffee and Virgil "Gus" Grissom, were killed on Jan. 26, 1967, when an explosion and fire occurred during a simulated launch of their Apollo spacecraft.

Alumnus Jerry Ross, shown below peering into the window of Atlantis' cabin during the STS-37 mission, has logged 58 hours and 18 minutes in nine spacewalks, more spacewalk time than any other NASA astronaut. His seventh space flight, aboard Atlantis in April 2002, also is a record.

Nineteen Purdue alumni are current or former NASA astronauts and two are payload specialists. Although they are astronauts, payload specialists are not selected by NASA for the space program, and so are not considered NASA astronauts. Payload specialists are career scientists or engineers selected by their employer or country for their expertise in conducting a specific experiment or commercial venture on a space shuttle mission.

Purdue and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have had more alumni chosen for space flight than any other non-military institution. Only the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and the U.S. Air Force Academy have had more than 20 astronaut alumni.

Purdue alumni have flown on approximately 37 percent of all manned U.S. space flights, including missions from Project Mercury (Grissom), the Gemini Program (Armstrong, Cernan and Grissom) and the Apollo Program (Armstrong and Cernan). Thirty nine flights of the space shuttle have had Purdue alumni as part of the crews. Two of the six Americans who have flown on board the Russian space station Mir, John Blaha and David Wolf, are Purdue grads.

* To Purdue in space

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