Hank Hartsfield


Hank Hartsfield

2007 COSAM Distinguished Alumnus

Hank Hartsfield '54

Col. Henry W. (Hank) Hartsfield, physics '54, was born in Birmingham, Ala., in 1933. After graduating from Auburn, he began graduate school at Duke University but was called into active duty a year later by the Air Force. While stationed in North Carolina, Hartsfield met and married Judy Frances Massey.

Following a tour in Bitburg, Germany, Hartsfield was selected for the USAF Test Pilot School. He graduated in 1965 and remained as an instructor until October 1966 when he was selected as a military astronaut on the Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) Program.  The program was canceled in 1969 and Hartsfield was assigned to NASA as an astronaut.  Prior to joining NASA he earned a master's in engineering science from the University of Tennessee.

Hartsfield held various positions with the Astronaut Office, most significantly providing the pilots input on the development of the space shuttle entry flight control system. Also at NASA, he piloted Space Shuttle Columbia's fourth and final orbital flight test in June 1982, commanded the first flight of Space Shuttle Discovery in August 1984 and commanded Space Shuttle Challenger on the German D-1 Space lab mission in October 1985. He also held management positions at the Johnson Space Center, NASA Headquarters and Marshall Space Flight Center.

Hartsfield retired from NASA in 1997 and joined Raytheon, serving as vice president for aerospace engineering services in Houston. He retired from Raytheon in April 2005.

Hartsfield has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career including the General Thomas D. White Space Trophy (1974), NASA DOD Distinguished Civilian Service Award (1982), an Honorary Doctor of Science from Auburn University (1986), Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame (1983) and Astronaut Hall of Fame (2006). He was also elevated to fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (2006).

Hartsfield lived in Houston. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, Judy and Keely, and two grandsons, Bobby and Michael.