Donald H. Peterson Sr., an astronaut who served on the space shuttle's Challenger maiden voyage and completed a spacewalk to test repairing the vehicle while covering more than 170 miles The earth died on May 27 at his home in El Lago, Texas. He was 84.
The cause was Alzheimer's disease and bone cancer, said one daughter, Shari Peterson.
An Air Force veteran, Peterson joined NASA's astronaut corps in September 1969, two months after Neil Armstrong led the historic first landing on the Moon. Fourteen years later, Peterson joined the crew of the sixth NASA Space Shuttle Mission – and the Challenger's first flight. (The Shuttle exploded in 1
Soviet and American astronauts had been making spacewalks since 1965, but the ability to leave the shuttle was an important step toward repairing and servicing a spacecraft
Peterson and mission expert Story Musgrave dressed in 250-pound white spacesuits with tethered backpacks that allowed for greater mobility.
Before leaving the Challenger, Peterson had to breathe pure oxygen for three and a half hours to gradually reduce excess nitrogen from his body. This was done to avoid a decompression sickness similar to that experienced by diver with too rapidly changing air pressure.
The fresh oxygen made a "nice sound," so Peterson turned off his handset and fell into "probably the best" sleep I've had in orbit, "he recalled in a 2002 NASA oral history interview." People asked, "How in the world can you sleep before you get ready to go?" I said, "You know, you get tired enough, you can sleep almost anywhere."
At 4:30 pm, Peterson and Musgrave were in the 60-foot cargo bay, checking the maintenance materials, the future crews had to keep. fix the spacecraft. For about four hours, they seemed to be moving "like underwater swimmers" as the shuttle circled the earth at 17,500 miles per hour, the Washington Post reported.
The men were tied to the shuttle's cargo bay as they tested their ability to carry a weighted bag, use a hand winch, and perform other tasks.
After launching a satellite, the crew decided that they should do it. Test what would happen if the electronic engines that would tip the collar at the back of the orbiter would not work anymore.
"We had shackles, but it took so long to set them up and move them around. I do not want to do that," Peterson said in a NASA interview. "So I was holding on to a piece of sheet metal with one hand, which was not the best way to hold on, and turned the wrench with my other hand, and my legs floated out behind me." As I cranked up, my legs wagged like a swimmer back and forth to respond to the wrench. "
During this test, his suit began to leak. "I have an alarm," Peterson said to Musgrave.
"Story stopped what he was doing and came over," Peterson recalls. "We tried to check what was going on and the seal burst and the leak stopped." They finished the procedure.
Donald Herod Peterson was born on October 22, 1933 in Winona, Mississippi. His father ran a gas station and sold furniture. Peterson's enthusiastic consumption of science fiction in his childhood drove his interest in aviation and space.
Peterson graduated from the US Military Academy in West Point, New York in 1955, and received a 1962 Masters in Nuclear Engineering from the Air Force in 1965-00003.] Early in his military career, he worked for the Air Training Command Flying instructor and for the Air Force Systems Command as a nuclear system analyst.
He served in the Air Force for 24 years before returning to the rank of Colonel. After leaving NASA in 1984, he became a consultant for manned spaceflight operations. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
His wife, nearly 60, former Bonnie Ruth Love, died in 2017. In addition to his daughter, from League City, Texas, survivors include two more children, Don Peterson Jr. of Fort Worth, Texas, and Jean Stone from San Antonio, Texas; a brother; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
The Washington Post