NASA Astronauts with Texas Roots
NASA Astronauts with Texas Roots

Want to be
an astronaut?

How to Become an Astronaut

What it takes

Selection &

Helpful Reading
(PDF files)

Astronaut Fact

Columbia Specialty Plate

Help educate many young Texans by ordering the Space Shuttle Columbia Specialty license plate today

NASA Astronauts with Texas Roots

[James Newman]
James H. Newman
NASA Astronaut


Born October 16, 1956, in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (now the Federated States of Micronesia), but considers San Diego, California, to be his hometown. Married to Mary Lee Pieper. Three children. He enjoys hiking, soccer, softball, squash, and soaring. His mother, Ms. Ruth Hansen, and his father, Dr. William Newman, are both residents of San Diego. Mary Leešs parents, Mr. & Mrs. Wylie Bernard Pieper, reside in Houston, Texas.


Graduated from La Jolla High School, San Diego, California in 1974; received a bachelor of arts degree in physics (graduated cum laude) from Dartmouth College in 1978, a master of arts degree and a doctorate in physics from Rice University in 1982 and 1984, respectively.


Member of the American Physical Society and Sigma Xi.


Awarded a Citation in Senior Thesis Research from Dartmouth College in 1978. Elected to Sigma Xi in 1980. Recipient of 1982-83 Texaco Fellowship, the Sigma Xi Graduate Merit Award in 1985, and 1988 NASA Superior Achievement Award. Selected by NASA JSC to attend the 1989 summer session of the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. Awarded the 1995 Superior Achievement Award by the Institute of Navigation for "outstanding accomlishments as a Practical Navigator" for his work on GPS (Global Positioning System) on the Space Shuttle. 1996 NASA Exceptional Service Medal. Recipient of the American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award (1994, 1999) for his work as a member of the STS-51 and STS-88 crews. As the leader of the Space Vision System Development Team, Newman shared the 2001 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation's Team Award and shared a 2002 NASA Group Achievement Award to the Space Vision System Team.


After graduating from Rice University in 1984, Dr. Newman did an additional year of post-doctoral work at Rice. His research interests are in atomic and molecular physics, specifically medium to low energy collisions of atoms and molecules of aeronomic interest. His doctoral work at Rice University was in the design, construction, testing, and use of a new position-sensitive detection system for measuring differential cross sections of collisions of atoms and molecules. In 1985, Dr. Newman was appointed as adjunct professor in the Department of Space Physics and Astronomy at Rice University. That same year he came to work at NASAšs Johnson Space Center, where his duties included responsibility for conducting flight crew and flight control team training for all mission phases in the areas of Orbiter propulsion, guidance, and control. He was working as a simulation supervisor when selected for the astronaut program. In that capacity, he was responsible for a team of instructors conducting flight controller training.

Selected by NASA in January 1990, Dr. Newman began astronaut training in July 1990. His technical assignments since then include: Astronaut Office Mission Support Branch where he was part of a team responsible for crew ingress/strap-in prior to launch and crew egress after landing; Mission Development Branch working on the Shuttle on-board laptop computers; Chief of the Computer Support Branch in the Astronaut Office, responsible for crew involvement in the development and use of computers on the Space Shuttle and Space Station. Detailed to the Space Shuttle Program Office in March 1999 for a two year tour of duty, Newman served as the RMS Integration Manager responsible for the Orbiter robotic arm and the Space Vision System. He flew as a mission specialist on STS-51 (1993), STS-69 (1995), STS-88 (1998) and STS-109 (2002). A veteran of four space flights, Dr. Newman has logged over 43 days in space, including six spacewalks totaling 43 hours and 13 minutes.

Effective December 1, 2002, Newman will serve as NASAšs Director, Human Space Flight Programs, Russia. As NASAšs lead representative to the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos) and its contractors, his role is to continue oversight of all human space flight operations, logistics, and technical functions, including NASAšs mission operations in Korolev and crew training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City.


STS-51 Discovery, (September 12-22, 1993) was launched from and returned to make the first night landing at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. During the ten-day flight, the crew of five deployed the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) and the Orbiting and Retrievable Far and Extreme Ultraviolet Spectrometer on the Shuttle Pallet Satellite (ORFEUS/SPAS). Newman was responsible for the operation of the SPAS, was the backup operator for the RMS, and on flight day fiveconducted a seven-hour, five minute spacewalk with Carl Walz. The extravehicular activity (EVA) tested tools and techniques for use on future missions. In addition to working with numerous secondary payloads and medical test objectives, the crew successfully tested a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver to determine real-time Shuttle positions and velocities and completed a test routing Orbiter data to on-board laptop computers. STS-51 made 158 orbits of the Earth, taveling 4.1 million miles in 236 hours and 11 minutes.

STS-69 Endeavour (September 7-18, 1995), was an eleven-day mission during which the crew successfully deployed and retrieved a SPARTAN satellite and the Wake Shield Facility (WSF). Also on board was the International Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker payload, numerous secondary payloads, and medical experiments. Newman was responsible for the crewšs science involvement with the WSF and was also the primary RMS operator on the flight, performing the WSF and EVA RMS operations. He also operated the on-orbit tests of the Ku-band Communications Adaptor, the Relative GPS experiment, and the RMS Manipulator Positioning Display. The mission was accomplished in 171 Earth orbits, traveling 4.5 million miles in 260 hours, 29 minutes.

STS-88 Endeavour (December 4-15, 1998), was the first International Space Station assembly mission. During the twelve-day mission the Unity module was mated with Zarya module. Newman performed three spacewalks with Jerry Ross, totaling 21 hours, 22 minutes. The primary objective of the spacewalks was to connect external power and data umbilicals between Zarya and Unity. Other objectives include setting up the Early Communication antennaas, deploying antennas on Zarya that had failed to deploy as expected, installing a sunshade to protect an external computer, installing translation aids, and attaching tools/hardware for use in future EVAšs. The crew also performed IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC) operations, and deployed two satellites, Mighty Sat 1, sponsored by the Air Force, and SAC-A, from Argentina. The mission was accomplished in 185 orbits of the Earth, traveling 4.6 million miles in 283 hours and 18 minutes.

STS-109 Columbia (March 1-12, 2002). STS-109 was the fourth Hubble Space Telescope (HST) servicing mission and the 108th flight of the Space Shuttle. The crew of STS-109 successfully upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope with new solar arrays, a new power control unit, and a new camera, and also installed a cooler to reactivate an old infrared camera. This work was accomplished during a total of five spacewalks in five consecutive days. Dr. Newman performed two spacewalks with crewmate Mike Massimino, totaling 14 hours and 46 minutes. During the first of these spacewalks, Newman and Massimino replaced an old solar array and a reaction wheel assembly with new units. During their second spacewalk they replaced the old Faint Object Camera with the state-of-the-art Advanced Camera for Surveys, expected to produce a ten-fold increase in Hubble's capability. STS-109 orbited the Earth 165 times, traveling 3.9 million miles in 262 hours and 10 minutes.



Last Modified: Sun Aug 01, 2004