In-Depth Report

New Yorkers In Space

Patrick Chase
Aug 19 2021
Traveling to space is a profound and transformative journey for those able to experience it, and New Yorkers have been a part of these momentous missions from the very start. These brave men and women have been true trailblazers, pushing the boundaries of science and exploration and inspiring people young and old. Together they have spent over 1379 days in space, with more coming up in the near future!

New Yorkers have broken many barriers in human spaceflight. Elmira native Eileen Collins was the 1st female Space Shuttle Commander, while Queens native Anna Lee Fischer was the 1st mother in space. Scarsdale native Jeffrey Hoffman was NASA's 1st Jewish astronaut, and Queens native Dennis Tito was the 1st private space tourist. Endicott native Doug Hurley was among the 1st astronauts to dock a private spacecraft to the International Space Station, and Syracuse native Jeanette Epps hopes to be the 1st African American female member of an ISS crew in 2021.

They are examples of the best New York has to offer, and Empire Space hopes an increasingly diverse generation of explorers will be added to this list soon!

Below you will find a brief introduction to each astronaut, listed alphabetically by where they were born. We hope you will be inspired by these stories and continue your own exploration of how New Yorkers have contributed to exploring space.

Be sure to scroll to the bottom for a special Honorary Mention!

Albany, Nicole Stott (1962-). A 27 year Nasa veteran, Nicole Stott flew on 5 separate space missions, logging over 103 days in space. On October 21st, 2009, Stott and fellow astronaut Jeff Williams participated in the 1st ever live tweet from space.

Amityville, Kevin Kregel (1956-). A veteran of 4 Space Shuttle flights, 2 as Mission Commander, Kevin Kregel has spent more than 52 days in space. After retiring from NASA, he spent 15 years as a commercial airline pilot.

Bronx, Mario Runco Jr. (1952-). A Bronx native, Mario Runco Jr. spent more than 22 days in space over 3 shuttle missions. His tireless work ethic saw him play a supporting role in dozens more. He also played a significant role in developing the windows aboard the International Space Station, among other optics innovations.

Brooklyn, Martin Fettman (1956-). A veterinary pathologist by training, Martin Fettman spent 14 days in space in October 1993 aboard STS-58. Since his flight he has travelled and spoken extensively in support of life science research in space.

Brooklyn, Gregory Olsen (1945-). In October 2005, Brooklyn native Greg Olsen became the 3rd private citizen to travel to space where he conducted remote sensing and astronomy experiments aboard the International Space Station. Olsen paid an estimated $20 million for his almost 10 day stay in space.

Buffalo, Edward Gibson (1936-). Buffalo native Edward Gibson was a support crew member for the Apollo 12 moon landing mission, and spent 82 days aboard the Skylab 4 space station mission in 1973-1974.

Cooperstown, Robert Gibson (1946-). Robert Gibson spent more than 36 days in space over 5 separate Space Shuttle missions, and after leaving NASA established a successful air racing career. Although Gibson was born in Cooperstown, he considers Long Beach, CA to be his hometown.

Elma, James Pawlczyk (1960-). Buffalo native James Pawlczyk spent more than 15 days performing neurobiology experiments about the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1998.

Elmira, Eileen Collins (1956-). Elmira native Eileen Collins has spent more than 38 days in space across 4 separate Space Shuttle missions. She served as the 1st female Shuttle pilot, and was the 1st female Shuttle Commander in 1999 for the Columbia mission that launched the Chandra X-Ray Telescope.

Endicott, Doug Hurley (1966-). A veteran pilot of 2 Space Shuttle missions, Doug Hurley served as the Commander for the 2020 SpaceX Demo-2 mission, the 1st crewed flight of a privately built and operated spacecraft.

Lockport, William Gregory (1957-). Lockport native William Gregory is an Air Force veteran who served 16 days as the pilot of the Space Shuttle Endeavour in March of 1995.

Manhattan, Jay Buckey (1956-). Manhattan native Jay Buckey spent more than 15 days in space aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1998 performing neurobiology experiments. Buckey also spent time as an Air Force Reserve flight surgeon and briefly ran for the US Senate in 2008.

Manhattan, Ronald Grabe (1945-). An accomplished and decorated Air Force pilot, Manhattan native Ronald Grabe spent more than 26 days over 4 separate Space Shuttle missions in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Manhattan, Bruce Melnick (1949-). Born in Manhattan, Bruce Melnick was the 1st Coast Guard aviator to go to space, spending more than 12 days on 2 shuttle missions. Although born a New Yorker, Melnick considers Clearwater, Florida to be his hometown.

Manhattan, Robert Parker (1936-). A veteran of 2 Space Shuttle missions, Robert Parker spent more than 19 days in space. Although born in Manhattan, he was raised in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

Oceanside, Mike Massimino (1962-). A Long Island native and a graduate of Columbia University, Mike Massimino spent more than 23 days on 2 Space Shuttle missions in 2002 & 2009, both of which serviced the Hubble Space Telescope.

Plattsburgh, Michael Anderson (1959-2003). Born in Plattsburgh, Michael Anderson was raised in Spokane, Washington, eventually becoming a decorated Air Force pilot. After spending 8 days in space aboard the Shuttle Endeavour in 1998, he and his 6 crewmates perished onboard the Shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated upon re-entry in February, 2003.

Queens, Karol Bobko (1937-). A Queens native who graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, Karol Bobko was a member of the 1st Air Force Academy graduating class. He would go on to spend more than 16 days in space on 3 separate Shuttle missions. He was the 1st Air Force Academy graduate to go to space.

Queens, Charles Camarda (1952-). A native of Ozone Park in Queens, Charles Camarda is an aerospace engineer who spent 13 days in space aboard Space Shuttle Discovery in 2005. This was NASA's 'Return to Flight' mission after the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

Queens, Anna Lee Fischer (1949-). Born in St. Albans, Queens, Anna Lee Fischer was an emergency room doctor who went to graduate school before becoming an astronaut. In November of 1984 she spent more than 7 days in space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, becoming the 1st mother in space in the process.

Queens, Dennis Tito (1940-). A graduate of Forest Hills High School in Queens and then NYU, Dennis Tito became a successful entrepreneur with a passion for engineering and space. In April of 2001, Tito launched for an 8 day stay aboard the International Space Station as the world's 1st private space tourist. Since his flight Tito has been an advocate for a manned mission to Mars and greater access to space.

Queens, Jim Wetherbee (1952-). Born and raised around Huntington, Long Island, Jim Wetherbee went on to become an experienced Naval aviator. He compiled an extensive record in space, spending over 66 days across 6 separate Shuttle missions, 5 of which he was the Commander (an American record).

Rochester, C. Gordon Fullerton (1936-2013). An Air Force Colonel and research pilot, Rochester native C. Gordon Fullerton logged more than 15 days in space as one of the pilots during the inaugural days of the Space Shuttle. He also logged over 16,000 hours of flying time on various Air Force research craft.

Scarsdale, Jeffrey A. Hoffman (1944-). A talented astrophysicist, Scarsdale native Jeffrey Hoffman spent more than 50 days in space aboard 5 separate Shuttle missions, while also breaking a barrier as NASA's 1st Jewish astronaut. After his time in space, Hoffman served in Europe as NASA's representative to the European Union before taking a position at MIT where he continues to oversee research on the International Space Station.

Southampton, Mary Cleave (1947-). The daughter of teachers raised on Long Island, Mary Cleave went on to become an experienced environmental engineer. She would go on to spend more than 10 days in space on board 2 Space Shuttle missions during her time at NASA.

Syracuse, Lawrence J. DeLucas (1950-). An accomplished biochemist, Syracuse native Lawrence DeLucas spent more than 13 days aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia as a NASA payload specialist.

Syracuse, Jeanette Epps (1970-). An aerospace engineer who also holds patents with the Ford Motor Company and spent time as a Technical Intelligence Officer for the CIA, Syracuse native Jeanette Epps is slated to launch aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft for her 1st spaceflight sometime in 2021 or 2022. She will serve as a permanent ISS crewmember during her mission, becoming the 1st African American woman to do so.

Syracuse, Steven Swanson (1960-). Born in Syracuse and raised in Colorado, Steven Swanson has spent more time in space than any other astronaut on this list. He accumulated more than 195 days in space over 3 spaceflights, including an impressive 28 hours of EVA time on 5 separate missions outside the ISS.

Warsaw, James Adamson (1946-). A West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran, Warsaw native James Adamson spent more than 22 days in space during 2 Space Shuttle missions as a Guidance, Navigation, and Control Officer,

Windsor, Douglas Wheelock (1960-). Inspired by the Apollo 11 Moon landing, Douglas Wheelock lead an impressive military career before achieving his dream of becoming a NASA astronaut, where he was an important part of NASA's co-operation with Russia during the construction of the International Space Station, He spent 178 days in space during 2 spaceflights, including an extended stint as the Commander of the International Space station, the 1st Army officer to do so.

Yonkers, Ronald Garan Jr. (1961-). A graduate of Roosevelt High School in Yonkers and then SUNY Oneonta, Ronald Garan Jr. served as a combat pilot during Desert Storm. He then spent more than 177 days in space during 2 spaceflights, including an extended stay onboard the International Space Station, where he spent more than 27 hours conducting EVA work outside the station.

Honorary Mention

Dr. Sian Proctor was the pilot of Inspiration 4, the 1st all civilian mission to space. Dr. Proctor was the 4th black woman in space, the 1st to pilot a spacecraft, and brought her passion for art and the humanities into space with her. Born in Guam, she spent her high school years in the Finger Lakes Region in Fairport, New York. Due to the significance of her flight and the place in history she has earned, Empire Space proudly honors her among her fellow New York astronauts."


These brave women and men have broken glass ceilings, opened doors for entire generations of young people, and pushed the boundaries of human knowledge. Their strength, dedication, and passion for discovery is a powerful demonstration of the contributions New York has made in space exploration. We hope you dive deeper into these stories and let them inspire you to chart your own path forward to the stars!

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