Purdue Space Day 2013 VIP Astronaut
National Aeronautics and
Roy D. Bridges, Jr. (Major General, USAF)
Bridges is a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Science in 1965. Following his undergraduate degree, he decided to study and received his Master of Science degree in Astronautics from Purdue University, IN, in 1966.
Bridges was the recipient of many awards and honors, such as the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, NASA Certificate of Commendation and many more. He is a retired U.S. Air Force Major General and served as the director of requirements for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and the director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center before he became the director of Langley Research Center and retired from that position in October 2005. In 2006, Bridges joined Northrop Grumman to provide management direction and oversight for Technical Services’ contracts.
SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE
Bridges was the pilot on STS 51-F Challenger (July 29 – August 6, 1985) and Spacelab 2 mission which launched at Kennedy Space Center and landed at Edwards Air Force Base. It was the eighth flight of Challenger, and was originally planned to launch July 12, but a malfunction of the number two Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) coolant valve caused the shutdown of all three main engines and delayed the launch. After a successful launch on July 29, both of the center engine’s high pressure fuel turbopump turbine discharge temperature sensors failed, which shut down the center engine. The failed SSME resulted in an Abort to Orbit (ATO) trajectory, where the shuttle was in a lower than planned orbital altitude.
The main mission objective of this spaceflight was to verify performance of Spacelab systems, determine the interface capability of the orbiter, and measure the environment created by the spacecraft. It carried 13 major experiments of which 7 were in the field of astronomy and solar physics, 3 were for studies of the Earth's ionosphere, 2 were life science experiments, and 1 studied the properties of superfluid helium. Despite the change in trajectory, the mission was declared a success after many experiments were conducted. This mission also marked the first time the European Space Agency Instrument Pointing System was tested in orbit. This instrument was designed with extremely high accuracy. It also flew the Spacelab Infrared Telescope, which observed light between wavelengths of 1.7 to 118 μm and returned useful astronomical data. Lastly, the mission carried the Carbonated Beverage Dispenser Evaluation, an experiment where Coca-Cola and Pepsi tried to make their carbonated drinks available to astronauts. The produce proved successful, but fizzed excessively in microgravity.