David Leestma is a veteran astronaut, or specifically a mission specialist astronaut, and has participated in three missions. The first mission was flight STS-41-G, on October 5, 1984 which lasted 8.2 days. His second mission was flight STS-28, on August 8, 1989 and lasted 5 days, and his last flight was mission STS-45, on March 24, 1992, which lasted 8.9 days.
David Leestma was born on May 6, 1949 in Muskegon, Michigan. His parents are Dr. and Mrs. Harold F. Leestma and they reside in Palm Desert, California. David is married to Patti K. Ops of Dallas, Texas. The couple has six children.
David graduated from Tustin High School in Tustin, California. Following high school graduation, he was admitted to the United States Naval Academy, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1971. He was first in his class. Following graduation he was promoted to the rank of a first lieutenant and was assigned to the USS Hepburn in San Diego, California. Following one year of active service, he entered the United States Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California in January 1972, and was awarded a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from there at the end of 1972.
Leestma completed his flight training in 1973, and was then stationed to Virginia Beach, Virginia. He made three overseas deployments to the Mediterranean/North Atlantic areas aboard the USS John F. Kennedy. In 1977, he was reassigned to Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California. During his stint as a naval pilot he logged over 3500 hours of flight time including nearly 1500 hours in the F-14A.
In 1980, Leestma was selected to become an astronaut and to be trained as a mission specialist. During his first mission in 1984, Leestma and Kathryn Sullivan successfully conducted a 3-1/2 hour extravehicular activity, to demonstrate the feasibility of actual satellite refueling. The second mission carried Department of Defense payloads and little was reported on what took place. In the third mission, the crew conducted 12 experiments, and obtained a vast array of detailed measurements of atmospheric, chemical and physical properties. The information collected was found to be useful for improving the understanding of climate and atmosphere.
Following his three space flights, in 1992, Leestma was selected to become the Director of the Flight Crew Operations Directorate. As director, Leestma had overall responsibility for the Astronaut Office and for JSC aircraft operations, and for the selection of astronauts for future flights. Leestma remained with NASA for a number of years serving in several managerial positions.
Leestma received a number of special honors, such as the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Legion of Merit, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Real Admiral Thurston James Award in 1973, the NASA Space flight Medal in 1984, 1989 and 1992, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1985, 1988, 1991 and 1992, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 1993 and 1994, and the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive in 1998 and 2004.
David Leestma, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Leestma
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