Mansfield Astronaut: Dr. Michael L. Gernhardt

July 20, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing.  Mansfield has its own astronaut; Dr. Michael Landon Gernhardt was born in Mansfield, Ohio on May 4, 1956.  Gernhardt graduated from Malabar High School in 1974 before attending Vanderbilt University and later earning a master’s and doctoral degree from the University of Pennsylvania.  Gernhardt was selected by NASA in 1992, before that he worked as a deep sea diver. Dr. Gernhardt flew in four flights spending over 43 days in space, this included four spacewalks totaling 23 hours and 16 minutes.



STS-69 (September 7-18, 1995) whose prime objective was the successful deployment and retrieval of a SPARTAN satellite and the Wake Shield Facility (WSF). The WSF was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of using this free-flying experiment to grow semiconductors, high temperature superconductors and other materials using the ultra-high vacuum created behind the spacecraft near the experiment package. Dr. Gernhardt was one of two astronauts to perform a spacewalk to evaluate future Space Station tools and hardware, logging 6 hours and 46 minutes of EVA. Mission duration was 260 hours, 29 minutes, and 8 seconds, traveling 4.5 million miles in 171 orbits of the Earth.

STS-83 (April 4-8, 1997) the Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1) Spacelab mission was cut short because of problems with one of the Shuttle’s three fuel cell power generation units. Mission duration was 95 hours and 12 minutes, traveling 1.5 million miles in 63 orbits of the Earth.

STS-94 (July 1-17, 1997) was a re-flight of the Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL-1) Spacelab mission, and focused on materials and combustion science research in microgravity. Mission duration was 376 hours and 45 minutes, traveling 6.3 million miles in 251 orbits of the Earth.

STS-104 (July 12-24, 2001) was the 10th mission to the International Space Station (ISS). During the 13-day flight the crew conducted joint operations with the Expedition-2 crew. Dr. Gernhardt was one of two astronauts to perform three spacewalks to install the joint airlock “Quest” (including the first US space walk from the ISS) and to outfit it with four high-pressure gas tanks. The mission was accomplished in 200 Earth orbits, traveling 5.3 million miles in 306 hours and 35 minutes.


The pale blue Earth serves as a backdrop for astronaut Michael Gernhardt, who is attached to the Shuttle Endeavour’s robot arm during a spacewalk on the STS-69 mission in 1995.

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