Purdue Fall Space Day

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Houston, Texas 77058

David A. Wolf (BSEE, M.D.)
NASA Astronaut


Personal Data

Born August 23, 1956, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He enjoys sport aerobatic flying, scuba diving, handball, running, and water skiing. His parents, Dr. and Mrs. Harry Wolf, reside in Indianapolis.


Graduated from North Central High School, Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1974; received a bachelor of science degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1978, and a Doctor of Medicine from Indiana University in 1982. He completed his medical internship (1983) at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, and USAF flight surgeon training at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.  Dr. Wolf has completed U.S. Astronaut and Russian Cosmonaut training.

Special Honors

Recipient of the NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (1990) was NASA Inventor of the Year, 1992. Dr. Wolf graduated "With Distinction" from the Honors Curriculum in Electrical Engineering at Purdue University and received an Academic Achievement Award upon graduation from I.U. Medical School (combined research program). He is a Purdue “Distinguished Engineering Alumnus.” He received the Carl R. Ruddell scholarship award for research in medical ultrasonic digital signal and image processing. He is a member of Eta Kappa Knu and Phi Eta Sigma honorary societies. Dr. Wolf has received 15 U.S. Patents, published over 40 technical publications or papers, and received over 20 Space Act Awards primarily for 3-dimensional tissue engineering technologies for which he received the Texas State Bar Patent of the Year in 1994. Dr. Wolf has received an additional Honorary Doctorate from Indiana University and 4 Spaceflight Medals.

Experience (Prior)

As a research scientist at the Indianapolis Center for Advanced Research from 1980 to 1983, Dr. Wolf established himself as a pioneer in the development of modern medical ultrasonic image processing techniques. This technology applied pulse compression digital RF pulse echo signal processing to improve image resolution and enable target parameter extraction, techniques now utilized by most commercial systems. He also developed novel doppler demodulation techniques extending the range velocity product limitations inherent to conventional pulsed doppler systems. He served as a USAF senior flight surgeon in the Air National Guard (1983 to 2004) achieving the rank of Lt. Colonel. He has logged over 2000 hours of flight time including air combat training as a weapons systems officer (F4 Phantom jet), T-38 Talon, and flies competition sport aerobatics (Christen Eagle).

NASA Experience

(NASA): Dr. Wolf served as Chief of the Astronaut Office Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Branch for much of Space Station assembly. He led a team responsible for the development, test, and execution of spacewalks from the International Space Station and Space Shuttle. This team plays a critical role for Space Station assembly, maintenance, and repair; requiring innovations to extend EVA capability in areas of hardware, techniques, and human performance. Dr. Wolf has logged 168 days, 12 hours, 56 minutes, 04 seconds in space over four separate missions, including long duration (128 day) on the Russian MIR space station, trained and conducted completely in the Russian language. He has conducted a total of 7 spacewalks, utilizing both the American and Russian spacesuits, and has logged 47 hours and 05 mins of extravehicular activity. He is an active public speaker and is called upon to represent NASA in a wide variety of venues to communicate the experience and importance of human spaceflight.

In 1983, Dr. Wolf joined the Medical Sciences Division, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas. He was responsible for development of the American Flight Echocardiograph utilized, in space, for investigating cardiovascular physiology in microgravity. This work required synthesis of spacecraft avionics integration, human physiology, and space operations to acquire fundamental cardiovascular data for human space exploration and revealing new Earth based physiological principles. Upon completion he was assigned as chief engineer for design of the Space Station Medical Facility, now operational on orbit. This work pioneered concepts in telemedicine, medical informatics, and bio-instrumentation. In 1986 he became Chief Engineer (and later Program Manager) of the “Space Bioreactor,” a biotechnology based tissue engineering and cancer research program. This team, under Dr. Wolf’s leadership, achieved the development of “state of the art” tissue engineering systems now widely used for both commercial and research purposes on Earth. Dr. Wolf fostered the successful technology transfer to private industry and to academic laboratory applications. Special skills developed include real time computer process control, communications, power systems, bioprocessing, fluid dynamics, aerospace physiology, and aerospace medicine. In these roles Dr. Wolf was responsible for technical and multidisciplinary team leadership, mult-million dollar budget, systems design, safety (electrical, biological), and spacecraft integration. This “on schedule” program is now a core biotechnology research facility on the International Space Station.

Selected as a NASA astronaut in January 1990, Dr. Wolf became qualified for space flight in July 1991. His technical assignments have included Orbiter vehicle processing and test at Kennedy Space Center (1991-1992) and spacecraft communications (CAPCOM, 1994-1995) on console for the 1st and 3rd Shuttle-MIR rendezvous and docking. He is a senior EVA (Spacewalk) Instructor and has qualified with the Shuttle Robotic Manipulator System (Robot Arm). Dr. Wolf completed Cosmonaut Training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Star City, Russia. Dr. Wolf consults at all levels of NASA management in development of spaceflight policy and program execution.

Space Flight Experience

(Oct 16-Nov 1, 1993) was a dedicated Spacelab life sciences research mission. The crew conducted neurovestibular, cardiovascular, cardiopulmonary, metabolic, and musculoskeletal research utilizing microgravity to reveal fundamental human physiology otherwise masked by earth gravity. Mission duration 14 days, 12 minutes, 32 seconds, a record at that time.

NASA-MIR 6 (Sept 25, 1997 - Jan 31, 1998)

This 6th mission of the joint “Shuttle-MIR” long duration spaceflight program, immediately following “the” fire and collision, and recovering from multiple total power failures, played a core role to establish the international relationships serving the foundation of the current International Space Station (ISS) Program. Dr. Wolf performed Cosmonaut engineering and scientific duties on the Russian MIR Space Station, including 9 EVA hours in the Russian ORLAN spacesuit. Mission duration was 128 days. Wolf launched on STS-86 and returned on STS-89.

STS-112 Atlantis (Oct 7-18, 2002) and STS-127 Endeavor (July-August, 2009).

These were on-orbit heavy ISS assembly missions by EVA and Robotics including the S1 Truss, Japanese Exposed Facility, P6 Battery changeouts, and multiple large external equipment installations. These provided critical ISS spacecraft communications, thermal control, and power management systems. Wolf’s primary duties were as lead spacewalker (EV1), and rendezvous navigation specialist. He performed a total of 6 spacewalks (19 hours and 41 mins of EVA on STS-112) and (18 hours and 24 mins of EVA on STS- 127). STS-112 mission duration was 10 days, 19 hours, 58 minutes, and STS-12 mission duration was 15 days, 16 hours, 44 minutes, 58 seconds.