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“Being assigned to do spacewalking stuff is, I think, almost any astronaut’s dream.” (Video interview, 18:43)

   Jerry Lynn Ross
Collection image
Jerry Ross at time of interview
War: Cold War
Branch: Air Force
Unit: 6510th Flight Test Division
Service Location: Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Edwards Air Force Base, California; Texas
Rank: Colonel
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In his early days with the Air Force, Jerry Lynn Ross was selected for the Air Force Test Pilot School. While he loved working with B-1 bombers, he decided to give it up for a chance to soar to even greater heights as part of the NASA shuttle program. Detailed to NASA by the Air Force in 1980, he worked in mission control and went on nine spacewalks. In his oral history interview, he discusses the 32 years he spent working in NASA, including how the agency changed at the end of the Cold War, and recalls his memories of the 2003 Columbia shuttle tragedy.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (80 min.)
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»Cold War Dispatches: Service Stories from 1947-1991
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Applying to NASA in 1977; not selected; encouraged to apply again; difficult decision; applied again and selected in 1980. (02:52) Training; working as a support crewman and with mission control; becoming eligible to be assigned to flights. (03:05) Working on the Hubbell Space Telescope. (00:41)
Build up to his first flight in 1985; excitement of first spacewalk; designing hardware for use in space; training in water tanks. (05:02) Conducting experiments during spacewalks. (NaN:NaN) Mission to deploy Compton Gamma Ray observatory, a sister to the Hubble Telescope; malfunction; working with engineers on ground to fix it. (01:47)
Changes within NASA toward the end of the Cold War; shifts in relationship with Russian space program. (01:46) Memories of the Columbia tragedy; working in mission control; realizing vehicle probably lost; informing families; collecting debris. (07:49) 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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