WASHINGTON, July 28, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — NASA astronaut and geophysicist Drew Feustel, a veteran of three space missions and nine spacewalks, who also held key leadership positions within the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, is retiring from the agency after 23 years. His last day is Monday, July 31.
Feustel spent 226 days in space over three missions, servicing the Hubble Space Telescope from space shuttle Atlantis and flying to the International Space Station twice on two different spacecraft – the space shuttle Endeavour and a Soyuz spacecraft.
“I want to thank Drew for his exceptional service and dedication to NASA’s mission,” said Vanessa Wyche, center director, NASA Johnson. “His leadership, aptitude, and his kindness impacted not only his fellow astronauts, but the next generation of explorers who come after him as well.”
The Lake Orion, Michigan, native spent two years as deputy chief of the Astronaut Office and recently served as acting chief astronaut prior to stepping down to leave the agency.
“From shuttle to Soyuz, and from Hubble to the International Space Station, Drew consistently provided excellent leadership and invaluable contributions that spanned more than two decades of human spaceflight achievement,” said Norm Knight, director of flight operations, NASA Johnson. “We extend a personal thank you to Drew for his dedication to the Astronaut Office and our space program.”
Feustel was selected as an astronaut by NASA in July 2000. Following the completion of two years of evaluation, he was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office’s space shuttle and space station branches. Feustel was qualified as a space shuttle and space station robotic arm operator, spacecraft communicator, and instructor astronaut for robotics and spacewalk training.
“Drew epitomized what it means to be a public servant, astronaut, and friend,” said Joe Acaba, chief astronaut, NASA Johnson. “He has served as a mentor and leader during a complex transition period. Throughout his career, he ensured our continued capability to conduct science with his service of the Hubble Space Telescope, aboard the International Space Station, and now the Artemis program. He will be missed and we all wish him success in his next adventures.”
Across his career, Feustel conducted nine spacewalks totaling 61 hours and 48 minutes working in the vacuum of space. He leaves third among all U.S. spacewalkers for aggregate spacewalking time.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to work among, and learn from, the exceptional and highly skilled professionals that enable human spaceflight,” Feustel said. “As a child I was inspired by early space pioneers and I always believed that one day I would become an astronaut and explore space. I hope that my story serves to inspire others to pursue their own goals and aspirations.”
Feustel’s first spaceflight was in 2009 aboard the shuttle Atlantis on the fifth and final Hubble servicing mission, STS-125. His second spaceflight was in 2011 aboard Endeavour, that shuttle’s final flight, and the penultimate Space Shuttle Program mission. STS-134 delivered to the space station the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a state‐of‐the‐art cosmic ray particle physics detector designed to examine fundamental questions about matter, and the origin and structure of the universe.
His most recent spaceflight was as space station Expedition 55 flight engineer and space station commander during Expedition 56 in 2018. Launching and landing on a Soyuz spacecraft, he saw the arrival and departure of six visiting spacecraft, participated in dozens of educational downlink events and ventured outside the station on three spacewalks to perform maintenance and upgrades.
While attending Oakland Community College in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Feustel worked as an auto mechanic restoring 1950s antique automobiles. At Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, he served as a residence hall counselor. His summers were spent working as a commercial glazier near his Michigan home. During his master’s degree studies, Feustel worked as a research and teaching assistant in Purdue’s Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department. In 1991, Feustel moved to Kingston, Ontario, Canada, to attend Queen’s University, working as a graduate researcher and teaching assistant while earning his doctorate in seismology. In 1996, Feustel and his family moved to Houston for his work with the ExxonMobil Corp. before joining NASA in 2000.
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