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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
TK Mattingly
Ken Mattingly '58
Aeronautical Engineering
Kathryn Thornton
Kathryn Thornton '74
Jim Voss
Jim Voss '72
Aerospace Engineering
Clifton Curtis Williams
Clifton Curtis Williams '54
Mechanical Engineering

Auburn's Reach in to space

3 of 10
Former Kennedy Space Center directors who are Auburn alumni
Auburn alumni who have worked for NASA
Number of space missions involving an Auburn astronaut

Contributing Crew

Jan Davis
Electrical Engineering
Director, Kennedy Space Center, Sept. 26, 1979-Aug. 2, 1986
Jan Davis
Electrical Engineering
Director, Kennedy Space Center, Aug. 31, 1987-Dec. 31, 1991
Jan Davis
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.

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