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|COLONEL THOMAS AKERS|
Born: May 20, 1951 in St. Louis, Missouri
Tom Akers (Colonel, USAF, Retired)
NASA Astronaut (Former)
PERSONAL DATA: Born May 20, 1951, in St. Louis,
Missouri, but raised and educated in his hometown of Eminence, Missouri. Married
to the former Kaye Lynn Parker of Eminence, Missouri. They have two grown
children. Tom enjoys hunting, fishing, restoring automobiles, farming and
spending time with his family. His parents, Walter and Arlie Akers, are both
EDUCATION: Graduated from Eminence High School,
Eminence, Missouri, in 1969; received bachelor and master of science degrees in
applied mathematics from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1973 and 1975,
SPECIAL HONORS: High School Valedictorian.
Graduated Summa Cum Laude from University of Missouri-Rolla. Named a
Distinguished Graduate of USAF Officer Training School, Squadron Officers
School, and Test Pilot School. Recipient of the Department of Defense Superior
Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Legion of Merit Award; Department of
Defense Meritorious Service Medal; USAF Meritorious Service Medal; USAF
Commendation Medal; USAF Achievement Medal; NASA Distinguished Service Medal;
two NASA Exceptional Service Medals; four NASA Space Flight Medals. Awarded an
honorary Doctorate of Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1992.
Awarded ten Outstanding Teacher awards from UMR/S&T 2000-2010, and Missouri
Governors Teaching Award 2004.
EXPERIENCE: Akers was a National Park Ranger at
Alley Springs, Missouri, during the summer seasons from 1972 through 1976. After
graduating from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 1975, he spent four years as
the high school principal in his hometown of Eminence. Joining the Air Force in
1979, his first assignment after Officer Training School was to Eglin Air Force
Base, Florida, as an air-to-air missile data analyst where he also taught night
classes in Math and Physics for Troy State University. In 1982 he was selected
to attend the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
On completing one year of training as a flight test engineer, in 1983 he was
reassigned to Eglin Air Force Base, where he worked on a variety of weapons
development programs, flying F-4, F-15, and T-38 aircraft until he was selected
for the astronaut program. He has logged over 2,500 hours flying time in 25
different types of aircraft.
NASA EXPERIENCE: Akers was selected for the
astronaut program in 1987. Positions held include: Astronaut Office focal point
for Space Shuttle software development; astronaut representative during Shuttle
software testing in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL);
supported launch activities at the Kennedy Space Center; astronaut
representative for EVA activities (space walks); Deputy Director of Mission
Operations; Acting Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations, and Assistant
Director (Technical) of Johnson Space Center. Akers left the astronaut program
and NASA in August of 1997 to return to the USAF as the commander of the
USAFROTC Detachment 442 at the University of Missouri-Rolla.
Akers retired from the Air Force in October of 1999 and
accepted a position as an instructor in the Math Department at the University of
Missouri-Rolla, now named Missouri University of Science and Technology
(S&T). He retired from S&T in 2010 and currently consults for NASA as a
member on independent review boards.
SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: A veteran of four space
flights (STS-41 in 1990, STS-49 in 1992, STS-61 in 1993, STS-79 in 1996), Akers
has accumulated over 800 hours of space flight including over 29 hours of space
On STS-41, October 6-10, 1990, he was responsible for the
missions primary payload, the Ulysses spacecraft. The STS-41 crew successfully
deployed the interplanetary probe and started it on its four-year journey via
Jupiter to investigate the polar regions of the Sun.
STS-49, May 7-16, 1992, was the maiden flight of the new
Space Shuttle Endeavour. The STS-49 crew successfully completed four EVAs (space
walks), three rendezvous, and a variety of secondary objectives. Akers was one
of a three-member EVA team who successfully captured and repaired the stranded
INTELSAT (International Telecommunications Satellite). This was the first and
only 3-person EVA and the longest EVA (8.5 hours) in history at the time. Akers
also performed a second EVA on this flight to evaluate Space Station Freedom
On STS-61, December 2-13, 1993, Akers again served as an
EVA crew member. During the 11-day mission, the crew captured the Hubble Space
Telescope and restored it to full capacity through a record five space walks by
four astronauts. Akers performed two of these bringing his total EVA time to 29
hours and 40 minutes.
STS-79, September 16-26, 1996, was the fourth Shuttle
mission to rendezvous with the Russian Space Station Mir. Akers was the flight
engineer and responsible for the transfer of over 3.5 tons of supplies to and
from the Mir. This mission also marked the first exchange of U.S. astronauts on
Mir - leaving John Blaha and returning Shannon Lucid home after her record six
month stay in space.
1994 Home Improvement (in person)