Joseph R. Tanner

Joseph R. Tanner bigraphy, stories - American astronaut

Joseph R. Tanner : biography

January 21, 1950 –

Joseph Richard "Joe" Tanner (born January 21, 1950) is an American instructor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a former naval aviator, and a former NASA astronaut. He was born in Danville, Illinois. He is unusual among astronauts as he did not have a background in flight test nor did he earn any advanced academic degrees. Typically those who did not do military flight test have an MD or PhD, if not a masters. Whereas Tanner’s path to becoming an astronaut followed operational military flying and then into NASA for operational jet training before being selected into the astronaut corps. He is also unusual in his current position on the CU faculty as all other members have at least a masters degree, with almost all having a doctoral-level degree.

Post-NASA career

Tanner joined the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Aerospace Engineering Science department as a senior instructor in September 2008. He assists with senior project course and master’s project course.

Awards and honors

  • NASA Exceptional Service Medal
  • NASA Space Flight Medals (four)
  • NASA Stuart M. Present Flight Achievement Award
  • JSC Superior Achievement Award.
  • Outstanding Alumnus of the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Illinois.
  • Distinguished graduate from Navy Flight Training.
  • Captain of the Swimming Team and "Top 100 Seniors" Award at University of Illinois.
  • Eagle Scout—Prairielands Council, Boy Scouts of America, Champaign, IL.

NASA career

Tanner flew aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-66, November 3–14, 1994, performing the Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science-3 (ATLAS-3) mission. ATLAS-3 was the third in a series of flights to study the Earth’s atmosphere composition and solar effects at several points during the Sun’s 11-year cycle. The mission also carried the CRISTA-SPAS satellite that was deployed to study the chemical composition of the middle atmosphere and retrieved later in the mission. Tanner logged 262 hours and 34 minutes in space and 175 orbits of the Earth.

Tanner performed two space walks as a member of the STS-82 crew to service the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in February, 1997. The STS-82 crew of seven launched aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on February 11 and returned to a night landing at Kennedy Space Center on February 21. During the flight the crew completed a total of 5 space walks to improve the science capability of the telescope and replace aging support equipment, restoring HST to near perfect working condition. The crew boosted HST’s orbit by 8 nautical miles (15 km) before releasing it to once again study the universe. Tanner’s two space walks totaled 14 hours and 01 minutes. The flight orbited the earth 150 times covering 4.1 million miles (6,600,000 km) in 9 days, 23 hours, 37 minutes.

Tanner’s third mission was STS-97 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour (November 30 to December 11, 2000), the fifth Space Shuttle mission dedicated to the assembly of the International Space Station. While docked to the station, the crew installed the first set of U.S. solar arrays, in addition to delivering supplies and equipment to the station’s first resident crew. Tanner performed three space walks totaling 19 hours 20 minutes. Mission duration was 10 days, 19 hours, 57 minutes, and covered 4.47 million miles (7,190,000 km).

Tanner’s fourth mission, STS-115 aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis launched on September 9, 2006. On September 13, he participated in the 5 hour 26 min spacewalk to connect the P3/4 truss to the ISS. STS-115 returned to Earth on September 21, 2006.

Personal life

Tanner is an Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America. He has an identical twin brother, David, who graduated from Indiana University Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in Math and Physics and also holds master’s degrees in Computer Science and Exercise Science and a PhD in Human Performance from the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University.