Purdue Alumnus Astronaut Dr. David A. Wolf joins the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Event Date: May 1, 2014
The School of Aeronautics and Astronautics is privileged to welcome Dr. David Wolf to our school as a Visiting Professor.

The School of Aeronautics and Astronautics is privileged to welcome Dr. David Wolf to our school as a Visiting Professor.

Dr. Wolf joined the school at the start of the Spring Semester 2014 and he is collaborating with Professor Steven Collicott to teach the orbital section of our unique hands-on project class, AAE418 "Zero-gravity Flight Experiment."

Dr. Wolf's great experiences not only with on-orbit operations but also in the planning and management of such activities by other astronauts makes him a remarkably valuable addition to AAE418.  He is leading a student team in defining and documenting on-orbit operations for 'Fluids Education,' a student designed space station experiment.  He is also guiding the students in producing effective astronaut training materials for the experiment program. 

Dr. Wolf, a 28-year NASA veteran and Astronaut has spent 168 days in space and conducted 7 spacewalks over four separate missions including Space Shuttles Columbia, Atlantis, Discovery, and Endeavor as well as the International Space Station, Russian Space Station MIR, and Spacelab.  Prior to being selected as an Astronaut he led NASA teams producing medical research instrumentation for spaceflight including novel state of the art technology for three-dimensional tissue engineering.  Dr. Wolf’s initial work at NASA stemmed directly from his research while at Purdue in medical ultrasonics. A medical doctor, electrical engineer, and inventor, Dr. Wolf has been awarded 17 U.S. patents, received the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, was named the NASA Inventor of the Year, The NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and received the Purdue Outstanding Electrical Engineer Award.

Dr. Wolf served as Chief of the Astronaut Office Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Branch for much of the Space Station assembly, leading the team responsible for the development, test, and execution of spacewalks to build the International Space Station (ISS). As part of the Medical Sciences Division at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, he was responsible for development of the American Flight Echocardiograph, utilized in space for investigating cardiovascular physiology in microgravity. He served as Chief Engineer for design of the Space Station Medical Facility. Dr. Wolf also served as the Chief Engineer, Chief Scientist, and Project Manager for the ‘Space Bioreactor,’ a tissue engineering and cancer research biotechnology program.  This technology is now utilized on Earth for “state of the art” three-dimensional tissue culture applications.

Selected as a NASA astronaut in 1990, he became the senior "Spacewalk" Instructor Astronaut and has conducted spacewalks in both the Russian and U.S. spacesuits.  He completed Cosmonaut Training in Star City, Russia and flew a 128 day “long duration” mission on the Russian Space Station, MIR.  The training and mission were conducted in the Russian language and overcame 3 total vehicle power failures, loss of vehicle attitude control, several life support system failures, and an airlock failure nearly preventing successful ingress from a spacewalk. Overcoming these, a full suite of microgravity research was completed. The mission is considered a key step in leading to the international relationships necessary to construct the ISS.  Consulting at all levels of NASA management; Dr. Wolf has been engaged in recovery of the ISS from multiple critical failures, spaceflight strategic policy, and tactical execution of space missions.

Born and raised in Indianapolis, he is a graduate of North Central High School, Purdue University BSEE’78 and Indiana University, School of Medicine, MD’82. He subsequently trained as a flight surgeon with the United States Air Force. The recipient of awards and special honors from these schools, he has also been granted an Honorary Doctorate from Indiana University.

Our school welcomes Dr. Wolf’s experience and expertise in enhancing the education of our students, and we look forward to this unique collaboration with a Purdue alumnus astronaut.