By Ellie Silverman | Washington Post
Donald H. Peterson Sr., an astronaut who served on the maiden voyage of the area shuttle Challenger and carried out a spacewalk to check the flexibility of repairing the automobile whereas it orbited greater than 170 miles above the Earth, died May 27 at his house in El Lago, Texas. He was 84.
The trigger was Alzheimer’s illness and bone most cancers, stated a daughter, Shari Peterson.
An Air Force veteran, Peterson joined NASA’s astronaut corps in September 1969, two months after Neil Armstrong led the historic first touchdown on the moon. Fourteen years later, Peterson joined the crew of the sixth NASA area shuttle mission – and the Challenger’s first flight. (The shuttle exploded in 1986 whereas on its 10th mission.)
Soviet and American astronauts had carried out spacewalks since 1965, however the skill to exit the shuttle was an necessary step towards with the ability to carry out restore and upkeep work on an area automobile.
Peterson and fellow mission specialist Story Musgrave wearing 250-pound white spacesuits with connected backpacks that allowed for larger mobility.
Before exiting the Challenger, Peterson needed to breathe pure oxygen for three-and-a-half hours, to regularly scale back extra nitrogen from his physique. This was achieved to keep away from decompression illness, a situation just like what scuba divers expertise when altering air pressures too quickly.
The recent oxygen made a “nice whishing sound,” so Peterson turned his receiver down and fell into “probably the best sleep I had on orbit,” he recalled in a NASA oral-history interview in 2002. “People asked, ‘How in the world can you sleep just before you’re getting ready to go?’ I said, ‘Well, you know, you get tired enough, you can sleep almost anywhere.’ ”
By four:30 p.m., Peterson and Musgrave have been within the 60-foot cargo bay, checking upkeep supplies that future crews would want to protect and, if needed, restore the spacecraft. For about 4 hours, they appeared to maneuver “like underwater swimmers” because the shuttle orbited the Earth at 17,500 mph, The Washington Post reported at the time.
The males have been roped to the shuttle’s cargo bay whereas they examined their skill to hold a weighted bag, use a hand winch and carry out different duties.
After launching a satellite tv for pc, the crew determined they need to take a look at what would occur if the digital motors powering the flexibility to tilt the collar at the again of the Orbiter stopped working.
“We had foot restraints, but it took so long to set them up and move them around, that we didn’t want to do that,” Peterson stated within the NASA interview. “So I just held on with one hand, actually, to a piece of sheet metal, which is not the best way to hold on, and cranked the wrench with my other hand, and my legs floated out behind me. So as I cranked, my legs were flailing back and forth, like a swimmer, to react the load on the wrench.”
During this take a look at, his go well with began to leak. “I’ve got an alarm,” Peterson instructed Musgrave.
“Story stopped what he was doing and came over,” Peterson recalled. “We were trying to check what was going on, and the seal popped back in place and the leak stopped.” They then completed the process.
Donald Herod Peterson was born in Winona, Mississippi, on Oct. 22, 1933. His father ran a service station and bought furnishings. Peterson’s avid consumption of science fiction in his childhood drove his curiosity in aviation and area.
Peterson graduated in 1955 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and in 1962 he obtained a grasp’s diploma in nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
Early in his navy profession, he labored for the Air Training Command as a flight teacher and for the Air Force Systems Command as a nuclear programs analyst.
He served 24 years within the Air Force earlier than retiring at the rank of colonel. After leaving NASA in 1984, he turned a marketing consultant on manned aerospace operations. His awards included the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.
His spouse of practically 60 years, the previous Bonnie Ruth Love, died in 2017. In addition to his daughter, of League City, Texas, survivors embody two different kids, Don Peterson Jr. of Fort Worth, Texas, and Jean Stone of San Antonio, Texas; a brother; 4 grandchildren; and 4 great-grandchildren.