Bob Crippen with flight jacket
Astronaut Bob Crippen, BS ASE '60 and the jacket he received from President Reagan to commemorate the first shuttle launch. The jacket is currently on display in the ASE/EM building.

Captain Bob Crippen, BS ASE ’60 has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the most prestigious lifetime honors granted to an engineer.

The Academy, founded in 1964, elects new members annually, recognizing engineers who have made outstanding contributions or accomplishments in either “engineering research, practice, or education” and/or “pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.” 

The former astronaut and director of NASA Kennedy Space Center was elected “for leadership in human space flight and development of solid fueled rockets.”

In 1969, Crippen became a NASA astronaut. A four flight veteran, he piloted the first orbital test flight of the Shuttle Columbia, the first true manned spaceship. He also piloted the second flight for the Orbiter Challenger — the first mission with a five-person crew. Crippen has logged more than 6,500 hours of flying time, which includes more than 5,500 hours in jet aircraft and over 565 hours in space.

He then went on to serve as deputydirector of NSTS Operations at the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Director of the Space Shuttle Program at NASA Headquarters and as KSC Director from 1992 to 1995. Following this, he served as president of Thiokol Propulsion until 2001.

Crippen has received numerous awards for his accomplishments throughout his career including the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Award, the U.S. Navy Distinguished Flying Cross and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on November 10, 2001 and currently serves on the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors.

Crippen has stayed very involved with The University of Texas and the Aerospace Engineering Department over the years. In 2010, engineering students were afforded the opportunity to visit with Crippen to hear his insight on where the U.S. should head next in space exploration.

Most recently, Crippen returned to campus to present a $10,000 Astronaut Foundation Scholarship check for the first time to a UT student. It is the largest monetary award given to outstanding undergraduate students in science and engineering.

Captain Crippen will be welcomed to the NAE by 28 current and 18 retired Cockrell School faculty members who have been honored in the past, nine of whom are members of the ASE/EM Department. UT’s senior faculty constitutes the fourth highest membership in the NAE among academic institutes. Total membership includes 2,254 U.S. members and 206 foreign associates.