Auburn in Space

Auburn in Space

Through the years, Auburn University and its alumni have greatly advanced the nation’s efforts in space exploration—with six alumni becoming astronauts, several others serving in lead governmental and space agency roles and the university partnering with Nasa on many high-level projects. To commemorate National Space Day, Friday, May 6, Auburn is recognizing the Auburn people, programs and partnerships that have moved the needle forward and continually upward in the never-ending quest of space discovery.

Auburn Astronauts
Jan Davis
Jan Davis '77
Mechanical Engineering
Hank Hartsfield
Hank Hartsfield '54
Physics
TK Mattingly
Ken Mattingly '58
Aeronautical Engineering
Kathryn Thornton
Kathryn Thornton '74
Physics
Jim Voss
Jim Voss '72
Aerospace Engineering
Clifton Curtis Williams
Clifton Curtis Williams '54
Mechanical Engineering

In addition to Auburn space-related news, featured below are some key statistics about Auburn’s reach into space and the names of Auburn alumni who became directors of the Kennedy Space Center.

Auburn’s reach into space
3 of 10
Former Kennedy Space Center directors who are Auburn alumni
488
Auburn alumni who have worked for NASA
20
Number of space missions involving an Auburn astronaut
Contributing Crew

The below “contributing crew” displayed are three Auburn alumni who were directors for the Kennedy Space Center.

Richard G. Smith
Electrical Engineering
Director, Kennedy Space Center, Sept. 26, 1979-Aug. 2, 1986
Forrest S. McCartney
Electrical Engineering
Director, Kennedy Space Center, Aug. 31, 1987-Dec. 31, 1991
James W. Kennedy
Mechanical Engineering
Director, Kennedy Space Center, Aug. 9, 2003- January 2007

*Many other Auburn alumni have also contributed through the years to the effort of space exploration in their own right. While not a complete list, that group includes those such as Todd May ’90, director, Marshall Space Flight Center, February 2016-August 2018; Brooks Moore ’48, who spent more than 50 years in Huntsville, Alabama working in the space industry; Jim Odom ’55, who led the development of the Hubble Space Telescope; John W. Thomas ’60, an instrumental cog in space programs for 60 years; Gerald W. Smith ’61, ’71, whose 40-year career included stints at Marshall Space Flight Center, Nasa headquarters and Stennis Space Center; Tim Monk ’05, senior manager, New Glenn Project at Blue Origin; and Jonathan Mitchell ’13, policy advisor for the New Zealand Space Agency.

Auburn News, Here and Beyond
Last updated: May 03, 2022