Only This Car Guy is Driving a Rockwell “Van” Doing About 17K Miles Per Hour
Astronaut John Mace Grunsfeld crewed on five Space Shuttle missions. He became NASA’s Chief Scientist. After he retired from NASA (the first time) he became an accomplished mountaineer and served as deputy director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. He later returned to NASA serving as associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD). Grunsfeld is also a tinkerer- he’s a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). He even has a passion for classic cars. Listen as Grunsfeld calls a couple of “Car Guys” from a very remote location to get their help with his current ride- a “Government van.” The video was uploaded to YouTube by 0do0m.
NASA Career Begins and the Call is Made
Grunsfeld’s career with NASA began in 1992 when he was selected as an astronaut candidate. His first Shuttle flight was as a Mission Specialist for STS-67/Astro-2 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour (2 March – 18 March 1995). March 2–18, 1995). This was one of the few Shuttle missions to recover at Edwards AFB in California. His next Shuttle flight was as Flight Engineer for STS-81 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis (12 January – 22 January 1997). This mission was the fifth to dock with the Russian Mir space station. It was during this mission that Grunsfeld made his call to Car Talk via a relay from Mir to a TDRS satellite.
Grunsfeld’s next mission was as a Mission Specialist for STS-103 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery (19 December – 27 December 1999). This mission was essentially a Hubble Space Telescope (HST) servicing flight which resulted in upgraded systems aboard the HST. Grunsfeld next returned to space as Payload Commander for STS-109 aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia (1 March – 12 March 2002). This was another HST servicing mission undertaken to install new cameras, solar arrays, and power systems. Here’s a video with Grunsfeld talking about his Hubble experiences uploaded to YouTube by Spaceflightnow.
Grunsfeld’s final space shot was as payload commander for STS-125 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis (11 May – 24 May 2009). This was the fifth and final servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope. The HST received replacement components and new sensors. This was another instance of a Space Shuttle mission recovering at Edwards- and resulted in another call to Car Talk. John Grunsfeld logged more than 58 total days in space during his five Space Shuttle missions, 58 hours and 30 minutes of which was spent performing eight “space walks.” Here’s a video of John speaking about the HST uploaded to YouTube by PSW Science.