Graduate Commands Shuttle Discovery
MELBOURNE, FLA.—Frederick (Rick) Sturckow’s 2000 graduation with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Florida Institute of Technology took him
a step closer to commanding a space shuttle mission. Almost a decade later, now a colonel with the Marine Corps, Sturckow is commanding Space Shuttle
Discovery, currently scheduled to launch at 11:59 tonight. He will lead the seven-member crew’s delivery of a module with science and storage racks to the
International Space Station. The mission will involve two spacewalks.
Originally from Lakeside, Calif., Sturckow, also earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from California Polytechnic State University. He was
commissioned in 1984 and earned his wings in 1987. When he graduated from the Florida Tech Patuxent River, Md., extended studies site, he had already
piloted the first International Space Station assembly mission. The astronaut has logged over 904 hours in space.
Norman Chlosta, Patuxent site director, recalls that the subject of Sturckow’s thesis was modeling the event of a tire failure on the shuttle during
Sturckow’s awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and
NASA Outstanding Leadership medals.