Steven Ray Swanson is a NASA astronaut and engineer. He was born on December 3, 1960 in Syracuse, New York but considers Steamboat Springs, Colorado his hometown.
Swanson graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 1979 and attended the University of Colorado until 1983, receiving a bachelor's degree in Engineering Physics. In 1986, he received a master's degree in computer systems from Florida Atlantic University.
Swanson started working at GTE in Phoenix as a software engineer for telephone systems in 1986 and 1987 before starting to work in the Aircraft Operations Division of NASA's Johnson Space Center. Working on the Shuttle Training Aircraft, Swanson participated in test flights to improve the aircraft's navigation and control systems, incorporating a real-time wind determination algorithm.
Swanson continued his studies and was awarded a doctorate in computer science from Texas A&M University in 1998.
In June 1998, Swanson was selected as Astronaut Candidate starting one year of basic training and evaluations in August. Upon completion of Astronaut training, he was assigned to the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch.
He also worked in the Robotics Branch and served as Capcom for Space Shuttle missions and ISS operations. He also completed advanced training for EVA, the Shuttle and ISS robotic arms, and Shuttle rendezvous.
Steve Swanson received his first flight assignment in February 2005 and began training with his crew of Space Shuttle Mission STS-117. Space Shuttle Atlantis blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on June 8, 2007, embarking on a two-week flight to the International Space Station.
Atlantis docked to ISS on June 10 and the three ISS crew members, Oleg Kotov, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Suni Williams greeted their visitors after hatches were opened to begin a busy mission. Atlantis delivered the S3/S4 truss segment to ISS that was handled by the Shuttle's and Station's robotic arms, being guided to its installation location on the starboard side of ISS. Three spacewalks were planned for the mission, but Mission Managers added a fourth to repair damage on one of Atlantis' OMS-Pods that had a problem with peeled back thermal blankets.
Two of the four EVAs were performed by Steven Swanson and Patrick Forrester while the other two spacewalks were conducted by James Reilly and John Olivas. Most of the EVA tasks were dedicated to outfitting of the newly installed S3/S4 truss segment including the removal of launch locks, the installation of connectors, the deployment of the solar arrays and preparations of the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint. Atlantis also delivered internal hardware that was transferred to the Station over the course of the ten-day docked mission.
Atlantis undocked on June 19 and was headed for landing in Florida on June 21, but bad weather at the Space Coast pushed the landing to June 22 switching to Edwards Air Force Base. Atlantis made a safe return, bringing home its crew and Suni Williams who traded places aboard ISS with Clay Anderson.
The mission was 13 days 20 hours and 12 minutes in duration and Swanson logged a total EVA time of 13 hours and 45 minutes during this mission.
Swanson's next space flight was Space Shuttle Mission STS-119 aboard Discovery launching from Florida on March 15, 2009 headed to the Space Station to deliver the S6 Truss segment. Docking on March 17, the crew joined the Expedition 18 crew of Mike Fincke, Yuri Lonchakov and Sandy Magnus. The main objective was the installation of the S6 truss that was maneuvered into position for installation during the first EVA of the flight performed by Steve Swanson and Ricky Arnold who bolted the truss in place and started to connect power and data cables, remove launch locks and set up equipment for the deployment of the solar arrays.
Swanson stepped outside again on Flight Day 7 with Joe Acaba to take care of a number of items including the preparation of batteries on P6 for replacement, the installation of a GPS antenna on Kibo and reconfigurations of connectors on the Z1 truss.
The third EVA was completed by Acaba and Arnold who relocated and outfitted a CETA cart. After an eight-day docked mission, Discovery departed the Station leaving the Expedition 18 crew of Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineers Yuri Lonchakov and Koichi Wakata behind, bringing Sandy Magnus back to Earth after her long-duration mission.
Discovery landed on March 28 at the Shuttle Landing Facility.
Overall, Swanson logged 26 days, 15 hours and 41 minutes in space on his two shuttle flights performing four EVAs for a total of 26 hours and 22 minutes.
In 2011, he was selected to perform a long-duration flight to the International Space Station, serving as Flight Engineer during Expedition 39 before becoming ISS commander for Increment 40. He will fly aboard Soyuz TMA-12M with Aleksandr Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev.