Donald Herod Peterson
West Point, 1955
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by West Point 1955 on November 9, 2018:
Colonel Don Peterson Memorial
Friends of Colonel Don Peterson are raising funds to erect a bronze statue in honor and memory of Don in his hometown of Winona, Mississippi.
The total project cost is $150,000. We plan to break this into three phases with a goal of $50,000 per phase.
Donald Peterson was born in Winona, Mississippi, on October 22, 1933. Peterson graduated from Winona High School in 1951.
He enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1955, electing to join the Air Force. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant. After working with Air Training Command until 1960, he was asked if he would be interested in getting a degree in nuclear engineering so he could join a program involving aircraft powered by a nuclear reactor. He enrolled in nuclear engineering at the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology. Six months before graduation, the program was cancelled. He earned his Master of Science degree in 1962. He also worked towards his Ph.D. at the University of Texas.
After graduating from West Point in 1955, Peterson's assignments included four years as a flight instructor and military training officer with the Air Training Command, three years as a nuclear systems analyst with the Air Force Systems Command, and one year as a fighter pilot with Tactical Air Command, including three months of combat weapons training.
He was a graduate of the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and was one of the third group of astronauts assigned to the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program. He logged over 5,300 hours flying time, including more than 5,000 hours in jet aircraft.
Peterson became a NASA astronaut in September 1969 after the MOL program was cancelled. He served on the astronaut support crew for Apollo 16.
Peterson retired from the United States Air Force with the rank of colonel after having completed more than 24 years of active service, but continued his assignment as a NASA astronaut in a civilian capacity. His areas of responsibility included engineering support, man/machine interface, and safety assessment.
Peterson was a mission specialist on STS-6, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 4, 1983. He was accompanied by Paul J. Weitz (spacecraft commander), Col. Karol J. Bobko (Pilot), and Dr. Story Musgrave (Mission Specialist).
During this maiden voyage of the spacecraft Challenger, the STS-6 crew conducted numerous experiments in materials processing, recorded lightning activities, deployed the first tracking and data relay satellite (TDRS-A), and activated three Getaway Specials. Peterson and Musgrave conducted the Shuttle program's first extravehicular activity (EVA) to test the new suit, the Shuttle airlock, and new tools and techniques for construction and repair outside a spacecraft. After 120 hours of orbital operations STS-6 landed on the concrete runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on April 9, 1983. With the completion of this flight, Don Peterson had logged 4 hours 15 minutes in extravehicular activity and a total of 120 hours in space.
Peterson resigned from the NASA Astronaut Corps in November 1984, and worked as a consultant in the area of manned aerospace operations.
Peterson married Bonnie Ruth Love in 1957. They had three children. Don died on May 27, 2018, at his home in El Lago, Texas at the age of 84.
He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the JSC Group Achievement Award (1972).
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