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Capt. Jerry M. Linenger, USN, Retired

Jerry M. Linenger


Capt. Jerry M. Linenger was born on January 16, 1955 in Eastpointe, Michigan. As a Naval Academy graduate and physician, he holds two master's degrees (policy and management) and a second doctorate (research) in addition to his medical degree.

After completing a surgical internship and aerospace medicine training, he served as a flight surgeon at NAS Cubi Point in the Philippines. He was then assigned as Force Flight Surgeon for Commander, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Following formal preventative medicine training, he worked as a sports medicine consultant and researcher, including work with the Navy SEALS.

Linenger joined astronaut selection Group XIV at Johnson Space Center in August, 1992. In the shortest time ever from start of astronaut training until flying in space, he flew his first space mission about Space Shuttle Discovery (STS 64, September 9-20, 1994).

Following his return to the planet, he moved to the Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia to begin preparation for a long duration space station mission. All of the training-from technical systems to space operations-was conducted in Russian.

During his Mir mission-132 days, the longest space mission ever flown by an American male at the time-he logged 50 million miles in more than 2,000 orbits around the Earth. Traveling at 18,000 miles per hour, he was the first American to undock from a space station in a Soyuz capsule and the first American to perform a spacewalk in a Russian spacesuit (the flight test of the new Orlan-M spacesuit).

The aging Mir provided challenges no one had anticipated, including the repeated breakdowns of the oxygen generator and other vital life support systems; the loss of computer stabilization and the resultant tumbling of the station; a near-collision with an errant resupply vessel, and the outbreak of the most severe fire to occur onboard an orbiting spacecraft. The crew overcame these challenges and by the close of the mission, and in spite of the difficulties, they had accomplished all science and operational goal.

Jerry M. Linenger, U.S. astronaut and Mir cosmonaut, was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on September 25, 1999 for his contributions to the U.S. and international space programs.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program