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Karol Joseph "Bo" Bobko
Born December 23, 1937(1937-12-23) (age 85)
Place of birth New York City, New York
Rank Colonel, USAF

Karol Joseph "Bo" Bobko (born December 23, 1937) is an engineer, retired United States Air Force officer and a former USAF and NASA astronaut.


Bobko was born in New York City, New York to a Polish-American family.[1][2][3] He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, New York, then received a Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Air Force Academy in 1959 and a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970.

USAF career[]

Bobko was a member of the first graduating class of the Air Force Academy. Subsequent to receiving his commission and navigator rating, he attended pilot training at Bartow Air Base, Florida, and Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. He completed his flight training and received his pilot wings in 1960.

From 1961 to 1965, he flew F-100 and F-105 aircraft while assigned as a pilot with the 523d Tactical Fighter Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, and the 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. He attended the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and was assigned as an astronaut to the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program in 1966.

He has logged over 6,600 hours flight time in the F-100, F-104, F-105, T-33, T-38, and other aircraft.

NASA experience[]

Bobko became a NASA astronaut in September 1969 after the cancellation of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program. He was a crewmember on the highly successful Skylab Medical Experiment Altitude Test (SMEAT) -- a 56-day ground simulation of the Skylab mission, enabling crewmen to collect medical experiments baseline data and evaluate equipment, operations and procedures.

Bobko was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project (ASTP). This historic first international manned space flight was completed in July 1975. Subsequently, he was a member of the support crew for the Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests conducted at Edwards Air Force Base. He served alternately as CAPCOM and prime chase pilot during these Approach and Landing Test (ALT) flights.

In preparation for the first flight of Columbia (STS-1) Bobko served as the lead astronaut in the test and checkout group at Kennedy Space Center.

A veteran of three space flights, Bobko logged a total of 386 hours in . He was the pilot on STS-6 (April 4–9, 1983); and was the mission commander on STS-51-D (April 12–19, 1985) and STS-51-J (October 3–7, 1985).

Spaceflight experience[]

Bobko with fellow astronaut Paul J. Weitz (left) during training for STS-6.

Bobko was pilot for STS-6, which launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on April 4, 1983. During the maiden voyage of Challenger, the crew deployed a large communications satellite (TDRS) and the rocket stage (IUS) required to boost it to geosynchronous orbit. The STS-6 crew also conducted the first Shuttle spacewalk (EVA) and additionally conducted numerous other experiments in materials processing and the recording of lightning activities from space. There were also three Getaway Specials activated on the flight. After 120 hours of orbital operations STS-6 landed on the concrete runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California, on April 9, 1983.

Bobko with U.S. Senator Jake Garn (left) during the STS-51-D mission.

On his second mission, Bobko was the commander of STS-51-D which launched from Kennedy Space Center on April 12, 1985. The mission was to deploy two communications satellites, perform electrophoresis and echocardiograph operations in space, in addition to accomplishing other experiments. When one of the communications satellites malfunctioned, a daring attempt was made to activate the satellite which required an additional EVA, rendezvous, and operations with the remote manipulator arm. After 168 hours of orbital operations Discovery landed on Runway 33 at Kennedy Space Center on April 19, 1985.

Bobko's final flight was as commander of STS-51-J, the second Space Shuttle Department of Defense mission, which launched from Kennedy Space Center on October 3, 1985. This was the maiden voyage of Atlantis. After 98 hours of orbital operations, Atlantis landed on Edwards Air Force Base Lakebed Runway 23 on October 7, 1985. Bobko became the first person to fly on three different Space Shuttles.[4]

Post-NASA career[]

In 1988, Bobko retired from NASA and the Air Force to join the firm of Booz Allen Hamilton, in Houston, Texas. At Booz Allen he was a principal and managed efforts dealing with human space flight. His areas of emphasis were: high performance training simulation, hardware and software systems engineering, spacecraft checkout and testing, space station development and program integration.

In 2000, Bobko joined SPACEHAB, Inc in Houston, Texas where he was Vice President for Strategic Programs. He led an organization which develops concepts, processes and hardware for future spaceflight applications.

In 2005, Bobko joined Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as Program Manager for the NASA Ames Research Center Simulation Laboratories (SimLabs) contract. The organization that he leads is responsible for developing and integrating hardware and software for a wide variety of simulations, including control system and inceptor design, air traffic management concept research, human factors research, and cockpit display evaluations. SAIC staff are also responsible for operational support of simulations, including the large amplitude Vertical Motion Simulator and several high fidelity flight simulators.

Awards and honors[]

See also[]

  • Booz Allen Hamilton


External links[]

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