Dr. Norman Thagard - Tallahassee, Florida
Dr. Norman Earl Thagard is an honorably discharged Captain of the United States Marine Corps serving from 1966 to 1971. He was designated a Naval Aviator in 1968 and was subsequently assigned to duty flying F-4 Phantom IIs with VMFA-333 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. He flew 163 combat missions in Vietnam while assigned to VMFA-115 from January 1969 to 1970. Dr. Thagard pursued his studies in Electrical Engineering, and a degree in medicine. He is a licensed physician.
Thagard was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in January 1978. In August 1979, he completed a one-year training and evaluation period, making him eligible for assignment as a mission specialist on future Space Shuttle flights. A veteran of five space flights, he logged over 140 days in space. In 1995, Thagard was the first American astronaut to blast off in a Soyuz spacecraft from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome for a flight to the Mir space station. He also has been inducted in the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2004.
A native Floridian, Thagard received degrees from Florida State and also earned a degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School.
Dr. Thagard served his fellow veterans for close to 50 years, and then later as someone with the knowledge and expertise to navigate through bureaucratic processes for much needed and much deserved benefits. Through the years, his selfless efforts brought recognition from elected officials and senior leadership as well as the respect of his neighbors, family, and friends. A case in point was his nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic in making the Challenger Learning Center and IMAX Theater a reality for the countless numbers of students that would have their eyes opened to learning about science and technology.
Some of his awards and honors include: