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Discovery astronaut Stephen Robinson to give public lecture April 1
Discovery astronaut Stephen Robinson to give public lecture April 1March 17, 2006Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Last July, the world watched with bated breath as astronaut Stephen Robinson, attached to a robotic arm only by his feet, made delicate repairs — the first of their kind — to the Space Shuttle Discovery as the shuttle orbited the Earth during its crucial and historic “Return to Flight” mission.
Robinson will discuss that mission, as well as his other ventures into space, during a keynote address at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Region I Northeast Student Conference, hosted by the AIAA chapter at Syracuse University. Nearly 50 students from universities around the Northeast are expected to attend the two-day conference March 31 and April 1 at the Genesee Grande Hotel in Syracuse
Robinson will speak at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, in the hotel’s Tiffany Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public.
“Dr. Robinson began his NASA career as a student co-op, like many students in engineering. He is an inspiration not only to students studying aerospace engineering, but also to students in other fields who dream of using engineering to change the future,” says Shannon Tronick, chair of the SU chapter of AIAA. “He has applied his aerospace engineering background in numerous ways and has built upon this foundation as an astronaut. Dr. Robinson’s achievements show students that one can apply engineering in many facets. With his mostrecent role in the ‘Return to Flight’ mission, he demonstrated that one must fight for the strength to overcome obstacles and persevere through challenges. Astronaut Robinson’s address will be an exciting finale to a conference that showcases the hard work of many engineering students who may also dream of someday riding a rocket into space.”
Robinson was a mission specialist aboard the flight of Discovery, STS-114, NASA’s first flight to return to space after the 2003 Columbia tragedy. The commander of the flight was SU alumna Eileen Collins ’78. During the mission, July 26-Aug. 9, 2005, Discovery docked with the International Space Station and the crew tested and evaluated new procedures for flight safety and shuttle inspection and repair techniques. Robinson performed three space walks totaling more than 20 hours of extravehicular activity. During the first two spacewalks, Robinson was joined by fellow astronaut Soichi Noguchi in performing repair techniques on the thermal protection system, replacing a control gyroscope on the ISS, and installing an external stowage platform.
A native of Sacramento, Calif., Robinson started working for NASA in 1975 as a student-co-op at NASA’s Ames Research Center. After graduating from the University of California at Davis in 1978, he joined NASA Ames in 1979 as a research scientist. While at Ames, Robinson earned master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering.
In 1990, Robinson was selected as chief of the Experimental Flow Physics Branch at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., where he led a group of 35 engineers and scientists engaged in aerodynamics and fluid physics research. In 1993, he was assigned for 15 months to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a visiting engineer in the Man Vehicle Laboratory (MVL). As an MVL team member, he conducted neurovestibular research on astronauts on the Spacelab Life Sciences 2 Shuttle mission (STS-58). He was also involved in research on EVA dynamics for satellite capture and space construction. In 1994, he returned to NASA Langley as a research scientist in the Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Branch and as leader of the Aerodynamics and Acoustics element of NASA’s General Aviation Technology program.
Robinson was selected as an astronaut in December 1994. In 1996, he was assigned to STS-85 as a mission specialist. During that mission, Aug. 7-19, 1997,the crew deployed and retrieved the CRISTA-SPAS payload, operated the Japanese Manipulator Flight Demonstration robotic arm, studied changes in the Earth’s atmosphere, and tested technology destined for use on the future International Space Station. Robinson was responsible for operating both the shuttle robotic arm and experimental Japanese robot arm and serving as a contingency EVA crewmember.
Robinson served as payload commander on STS-95, Oct. 29-Nov. 7, 1998, a science mission during which the crew supported more than 80 payloads, including deployment of the Spartan solar-observing spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope Orbital Systems Platform, and investigations on space flight and the aging process with crew member John Glenn. As prime operator of the shuttle’s robot arm, Robinson deployed and retrieved the Spartan satellite.
He has also served in numerous other assignments within the Astronaut Office.
A member of AIAA himself, Robinson won an “Outstanding Technical Paper Award for Applied Aerodynamics” as a co-author in 1992.