Space Autograph of the Week Topic 4: Fred Gregory
I had the pleasure of hearing former astronaut Fred Gregory speak at a Space Unit meeting in the Baltimore area over the past weekend — it was an excellent informal talk about his life from childhood to now. Interestingly, he never thought of being an astronaut until the 1970's...
Gregory spoke of growing up in the Washington DC area with his parents entertaining pilots and tennis players at their house. Then how he entered the United States Air Force Academy in one of the early graduating classes, the way his life took its twists and turns taking him through helicopter training in Nevada. He discussed his time as an H-43 combat rescue pilot at Danang AB, Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. Then his move from helicopters to fixed-wing aircraft and then to an operational test pilot flying fighters and helicopters. Then the move from the USAF to NASA Langley Research Center and eventually being selected for the Astronaut Program in January 1978 (special thanks to Nichelle Nichols of Lt. Uhura fame in the original Star Trek in getting Gregory to apply!).
Gregory spoke of his many NASA roles supporting spaceflights (e.g. CAPCOM) and, of course, some things about his flights aboard the shuttle. He served as pilot on STS-51B (April 29 to May 6, 1985), and was the spacecraft commander on STS-33 (November 22-27, 1989), and STS-44 (November 24 to December 1, 1991). He talked most about the STS-51B mission as the other missions are still classified DOD missions.
Though only briefly mentioned, Gregory also served in administration jobs at NASA Headquarters. He served as Associate Administrator for the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (1992-2001), Associate Administrator for the Office of Space Flight (2001-2002), and NASA Deputy Administrator (2002-2005). Gregory left NASA in October 2005.
I had him sign the covers shown above related to his STS-51B mission. Another Space Unit member brought with him a picture taken of his wife and Gregory taken at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center which he signed to her inscribed with his high school graduating class as they were at the high school at the same time!
After the autograph signing session he left to go out on his boat (which he now prefers over planes!).
As Fred Gregory said several times during his presentation that the two rules he lives by are... "have fun" and "make a contribution!" And he has in everything he has done and you should too!