1984 – Flies as a specialist on the Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-41C
Terry J. Hart was one of only thirty-five people chosen by NASA in 1978 for the first group of Space Shuttle astronauts known as "Group Eight." Twenty months later he completed his training and evaluation in preparation for Mission Control duties and his first and only space flight experience.
Youth, Lehigh, and the Air Force
Hart was born October 27, 1946 outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Sputnik I was launched by the Soviet Union just three weeks short of his eleventh birthday. In his 1984 preflight interview at the Johnson Space Center, Hart reminisced, "Everybody went out at sunset when (Sputnik) would be in bright sunlight and you would have a chance to see it from the ground. I had an interest right from then." Hart's interest led him to pursue both engineering and piloting.
After graduating from Mt. Lebanon High School in 1964, Hart began his first of four years in Lehigh's undergraduate engineering program. He was accepted into the engineering honors society Tau Beta Pi, played for the varsity golf team, and was president of his social fraternity Delta Upsilon. In 1968, he graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering. One year later he completed his M.S. at MIT, entered the Air Force Reserve, and began working for the technology staff at Bell Laboratories. He was named the Outstanding Officer of Undergraduate Pilot Training in his 1970 class of trainees at Moody Air Force Base and soon began flying F-106 interceptors for the Air Defense Command at bases up and down the eastern seaboard. From 1973 until 1985, he logged 3200 hours of flying for the New Jersey Air National Guard, 2400 of those hours in fighter jets such as the F-101, F-4, and F-106.
Career at NASA
1978 was a big year for Hart. He received his second patent with Bell Labs, titled "Latch and switch interlock safety structure," graduated from Rutgers' with a M.S. in electrical engineering, was selected by NASA to begin his astronaut training, and welcomed the birth of his second daughter, Lori. He spent five years as the Spacecraft Communicator (CAPCOM) with Mission Control's Ascent and Orbit Team for four of the first seven Space Shuttle flights. Hart's opportunity for outer space flight came in April, 1984 when he flew on STS-41C, NASA's eleventh Space Shuttle mission. He and his crew logged 168 hours in orbit above the earth in the Challenger and were the first astronauts to repair a satellite from the shuttle. Hart operated the robotic arm named the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) that retrieved the Solar Maximum Satellite for repairs. He also acted as rendezvous navigator and filmed footage using an IMAX camera for a movie titled The Dream is Alive (1985).
Retirement and return to Lehigh
Hart retired as an astronaut in 1985 but continued a prosperous career in the telecommunications industry. He held several engineering management positions in the Government Data Systems Division with AT&T and achieved a rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring from the NJ Guard in 1990. In 2004, he retired as president of Loral Skynet, a satellite communications company, to join Lehigh's engineering faculty. He currently teaches courses at his alma mater on aircraft design and performance. A Lehigh banner he carried with him on his space flight is currently hanging in the Dean's office of the Engineering College in Packard Lab.