ASCE Honors Pettit with its Columbia Medal

BY 
August 8, 2014

Donald R. Pettit, Ph.D., Aff.ASCE, is the recipient of the Columbia Medal for outstanding service as a NASA Astronaut and scientist. He has consistently contributed to the advancement of aerospace engineering, sciences, and technology and has logged more than 370 days in space and over 13 spacewalk hours. An astronaut and a veteran of a 6-month stay aboard the International Space Station, Pettit was a chemical engineer employed as a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, when NASA selected him as astronaut candidate in 1996. As a chemical engineer, he worked on several projects, including gravity fluid flow and materials processing experiments in cooperation with NASA. Pettit was also a member of several groups concerned with space flight projects: in 1990 with the Synthesis Group, which focused on the technology to return to the moon and explore Mars, and in 1993 with the Space Station Freedom Redesign Group. As an astronaut, Pettit’s first flight was Expedition 6, starting in November 2002. On that Flight, Pettit was NASA ISS Science Officer aboard the International Space Station (ISS). During his stay aboard the ISS, Pettit completed over 13 hours of spacewalking. His second flight was Mission STS-126, in 2008, on Space Shuttle Endeavour, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center on November 14 of that year. This mission set ISS up for a crew of 6 astronauts delivering new equipment to accommodate the additional crewmembers, exercise equipment, and a new ISS Toilet. In total, Pettit is an experienced ISS resident who has logged 176 days in space on his 2 missions. From November 2006 through January 2007, Pettit joined the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET), spending 6 weeks in the Antarctic summer collecting meteorite samples, including a lunar meteorite. During the expedition, he was called on to perform emergency electrical repairs to a snowmobile as well as emergency dental surgery.

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