Meet Astronaut Rick SearfossDec 27, 2018 11:00 AM - Jan 02, 2019 06:00 PM Kennedy Space Center
NASA selects astronauts from a diverse pool of applicants with a wide variety of backgrounds from scientists to pilots. From the thousands of applications received, only a few are chosen to be a member of the elite NASA Astronaut Corps. Each day at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visitors get the rare opportunity to meet veteran NASA astronauts.
You may meet the Astronaut of the Day at any of the following opportunities. See the Daily Schedule for times when you arrive.
- The daily Astronaut Encounter briefings allow time for a presentation from the astronaut and a discussion, so bring your questions and your camera.
- Visitors can also get an astronaut’s autograph at The Space Shop at various times during the day.
- With an additional purchase, visitors can enjoy an exclusive buffet lunch and group presentation during Lunch With An Astronaut. Offered at noon daily, lunch includes a question and answer session and photo opportunities!
Commander Rick Searfoss is an excellent leader and role model in many ways. He graduated first in his class at the United States Air Force Academy in 1978, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering. Searfoss didn’t stop there. He received a Master of Science in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology in 1979, along with various aviation related schooling over the years.
Searfoss acquired over 5,000 flight hours in 56 different aircrafts throughout his time with the Air Force, and served as a flight instructor at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. While working as a flight instructor, NASA recognized the talent and leadership in Searfoss. NASA selected Searfoss as an astronaut candidate in 1990, and after completing training, he became an astronaut in July of 1991.
STS-58 Columbia launched on October 18, 1993 with Searfoss as its pilot. The seven person crew performed several medical experiments on themselves and 48 rats, benefitting to the knowledge of human and animal composition. After 225 orbits of Earth, STS-58 landed at Edwards Air Force Base on November 1, 1993. Searfoss also commanded two more missions: STS-76 Atlantis and STS-90 Columbia. STS-90 lifted off on April 17, 1998, and was also the last Spacelab flight. During the 16 day period, the crew studied the nervous system and its reaction in microgravity, making it the complex Spacelab mission ever flown.
During his life, Searfoss received numerous honors and has been recognized as a strong leader. He was awarded the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, selected for Outstanding Young Men of America in 1987, and granted a NASA Exceptional Service Medal. In 1998, Searfoss retired from the Air Force and NASA. After retiring, he dabbled in private industry and served as a test pilot for NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center. Currently, he is a professional speaker who has flown in 84 types of aircraft during 6100 total hours of flight.
Meet Astronaut Rick Searfoss
Missions STS-58 Columbia