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Ross, Jerry Lynn, 1948-



  • Existence: January 20, 1948 -

Biographical Information

Jerry L. Ross was born in Crown Point, Indiana on January 20, 1948 to Donald and Phyllis (Dillabaugh) Ross. On January 25, 1970, he married Karen Sue Pearson, who he had met at Purdue University. He received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 1970 and 1972, respectively. Ross was an Air Force ROTC student at Purdue and received his commission upon graduation. After completing his master’s degree he entered active duty with the Air Force and was assigned to the Aero-Propulsion Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Among several assignments at Wright-Patterson, Ross conducted computer-aided design studies on ramjet and mixed-cycle propulsion systems and served as the project engineer for tests of a supersonic ramjet missile.

Ross graduated from the United States Air Force Test Pilot School’s Flight Test Engineer Course in 1976 and was subsequently assigned to the 6510th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force base, California.  While on assignment to the 6510th's Flight Test Engineering Directorate, he was project engineer on a limited flying qualities evaluation of the RD-135S aircraft and as lead B-1 flying qualities flight test engineer.  He was responsible for the stability and control and flight control system testing performed on the B-1 aircraft, along with being chief B-1 flight test engineer, for training and supervising all Air Force B-1 flight test engineer crewmembers and for performing mission planning for the B-1 offensive avionics test aircraft. Ross has flown in 21 different types of aircraft, holds a private pilot’s license and has logged more than 4,100 flying hours, the majority in military aircraft.

In 1979 Ross was assigned to the Payload Operations Division at the Johnson Space Center as a payload officer and flight controller. He was selected to be an astronaut in May 1980. Ross’ first shuttle flight, STS-61B, was as a mission specialist aboard the Shuttle Atlantis in late 1985. During this 165-hour, 108-orbit mission, the crew conducted two six-hour spacewalks to demonstrate space station construction techniques and operated several scientific experiments. Ross flew aboard Atlantis a second time, again as a mission specialist on STS-27, in December 1988. This mission carried a Department of Defense payload as well as a number of secondary payloads. In the three-year period between his first two shuttle flights, Ross helped develop assembly concepts for the space station and participated in the development of a higher pressure space suit and gloves.

Ross went on to serve again as a mission specialist for STS-37 in 1991, the Payload Commander on STS-55/Spacelab-D2 in 1993, and mission specialist on the second Space Shuttle to rendezvous and dock with the Russian Space Station Mir, STS-74 in 1995. In 1998 he undertook the first International Space Station (ISS) assembly mission, STS-88 and another Space Station assembly mission, STS-110 in 2002. A veteran of seven space flights, Ross logged more than 1,393 hours in space, including 58 hours and 18 minutes of Extravehicular Activity on nine spacewalks.  He was the first human to be launched into space seven times. These seven flights comprised a world record.

He retired from the Air Force on March 31, 2000 and from NASA in January 2012. He is one of only three astronauts to serve throughout the Space Shuttle program, from the first launch in 1981 to the last in 2011. He was among the first astronauts to enter the International Space Station in orbit, played a key role in recovering pieces of the Columbia Shuttle after its tragic accident, and helped develop facilities, tools and techniques that continue to be used in space today.

Ross is a published author. He is the author with John Norberg of "Spacewalker: My Journey in Space and Faith as NASA’s Record-Setting Frequent Flyer" (2013), with Susan Gunderson the children's book, "Becoming a Spacewalker: My Journey to the Stars Kindle" 2014, and with Karen Ross a geneaology series including "The Diaries of Harriet "Hattie" Dillabaugh 1889-1940: Miner's Delight, Wyoming Territory; Oregon Trail; Chehalis and Olympia, Washington Territory;Vancouver, Washington; Portland, Oregon" (2015)


National Aeronautics and Space Administration biographical data sheet (2012) and collection material

Found in 6 Collections and/or Records:

Purdue University Astronauts collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSP 168
Scope and Contents The Purdue University Astronauts collection consists of items relating to Purdue's alumni astronauts that had been collected by various donors before the advent of the Barron Hilton Flight and Space Exploration Archives. Included are newspaper clippings, Purdue University News Service press releases that had been written in regards to Neil A. Armstrong and Apollo 11, and various newspapers with Apollo 11 headlines and related clippings. Also included are Purdue University related publications...
Dates: 1965 - 2003

Roy D. Bridges Jr. papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 6
Scope and Contents The Roy D. Bridges Jr. papers document the extensive Air Force and NASA career of Roy D. Bridges Jr.The papers include but are not limited to, artifacts, audio visual material, awards, books, briefs and records, certificates, clippings, clothing, correspondence, diaries, documents, flight logs, flight checklists and data files, along with Bridges' pilot kneeboard notes, medals, mementos, papers, photographs, scrapbooks, textbooks, research papers, and working paper...
Dates: 1950 - 2013

Collection of Purdue Astronaut slide rules

 Collection — Box: 8 items
Identifier: MSA 254
Scope and Contents Slide rules of six Purdue alumni astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Roy Bridges, Eugene Cernan, Richard Covey, Guy Gardner, and Jerry Ross.
Dates: Other: undated

Purdue University Reamer Club records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 179
Scope and Contents This collection includes documents and artifacts from the Reamer Club and associated Purdue historical items. These include engraved reamers and paddles, record albums from Purdue Bands and the Purdue Groove, programs from Reamer Club banquets dating between the 1930s and the 1990s, sheet music, a Purdue student handbook from 1940, the Reamer office copy of the 1976-77 Women's Intercollegiate Sports Program, the brass 5 from the Boilermaker Special and the side panel from the Boilermaker Xtra...
Dates: 1892 - 2018

Jerry L. Ross papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSA 283
Scope and Contents The Jerry L. Ross papers document Ross' student life at Purdue, his test flight engineer work, and NASA career as an engineer and astronaut. The collection includes Purdue coursework and memorabilia; papers from Ross' work at Edwards Air Force Base, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and Test Pilot School; NASA Space Shuttle training, mission documents and mission related scrapbooks, memorabilia, and flight crew films and interviews, along with documents and maps from Ross' work on Space Shuttle...
Dates: 1940 - 2013; Majority of material found within 1970 - 2000

Cecil F. Warner papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 498
Scope and Contents The Cecil F. Warner papers document his teaching and research career dedicated to the areas of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, gas turbines, rocket propulsion and air pollution. The papers also reflect Warner's involvement within the community and countless volunteer hours committed to Boy Scouts, Habitat for Humanity, Kiwanis, First United Methodist Church and Home Hospital.Types of materials include: artifacts, audiovisual materials, booklets, books, CD-ROMs,...
Dates: 1921 - 2007; Other: Majority of material found within 1940 - 2010