G. David Low

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G. David Low
Low David.jpg
George David Low
Born(1956-02-19)February 19, 1956
DiedMarch 15, 2008(2008-03-15) (aged 52) [1]
Other namesGeorge David Low
Alma mater W&L, B.S. 1978
Cornell University, B.S. 1980
Stanford University, M.S. 1983
Occupation Engineer
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Time in space
29d 18h 05m
Selection 1984 NASA Group 10
Missions STS-32, STS-43, STS-57
Mission insignia
STS-32 patch.png Sts-43-patch.png Sts-57-patch.png

George David Low (February 19, 1956 – March 15, 2008 [1] ) was an American aerospace executive and a NASA astronaut. He was born in 1956 to Dr. George Low, the Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office. With undergraduate degrees in physics and mechanical engineering and a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics, he worked in the JPL at the California Institute of Technology in the early 80's, before being picked as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1984. In addition to holding some technical assignments, he logged more than 700 hours in space (including stints on the Columbia, the Atlantis and the Endeavour), before he left NASA in 1996 to pursue a career in the private sector.

Aerospace engineering effort to fly in the atmosphere of Earth (aeronautics) and surrounding space (astronautics)

Aerospace is the human effort in science, engineering, and business to fly in the atmosphere of Earth (aeronautics) and surrounding space (astronautics). Aerospace organizations research, design, manufacture, operate, or maintain aircraft or spacecraft. Aerospace activity is very diverse, with a multitude of commercial, industrial and military applications.

NASA space-related agency of the United States government

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

Astronaut Person who commands, pilots, or serves as a crew member of a spacecraft

An astronaut or cosmonaut is a person trained by a human spaceflight program to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a spacecraft. Although generally reserved for professional space travelers, the terms are sometimes applied to anyone who travels into space, including scientists, politicians, journalists, and tourists.



Low was born February 19, 1956, in Cleveland, Ohio and was active in the Boy Scouts of America where he achieved its second highest rank, Life Scout. He was married to the former JoAnn Andochick of Weirton, West Virginia. They had three children Maggie, Chris, and Abigail. He enjoyed tennis, lacrosse, scuba diving, running, and spending time with his family. His mother, Mrs. Mary Ruth Low, died in 2011. His father, Dr. George M. Low, Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, in 1968 proposed that Apollo 8 fly around the moon. His widow's parents, Mike and JoAnn Andochick, reside in Weirton, WV.

Boy Scouts of America Scouting organization in the United States

The Boy Scouts of America is the largest scouting organization and one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with about 2.3 million youth participants and about one million adult volunteers. The BSA was founded in 1910, and since then, about 110 million Americans participated in BSA programs at some time in their lives. BSA is part of the international Scout Movement and became a founding member organization of the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1922.

Weirton, West Virginia City in West Virginia, United States

Weirton(pron. WEER-ton) is a city in Brooke and Hancock counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Located primarily in Hancock County, the city lies in the northern portions of the state's Northern Panhandle region. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 19,746. Weirton is a principal city of the Weirton–Steubenville, WV-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had a 2010 population of 124,454 residents. Additionally, Weirton is part of Greater Pittsburgh, the 20th largest combined statistical area in the United States with a 2016 estimated population of 2,635,228.

Tennis Ball sport with racket and net

Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a tennis racket that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent's court. The object of the game is to maneuver the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return. The player who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.

Low died of colon cancer on March 15, 2008, at Reston Hospital Center in Virginia. [2]


Low graduated from Langley High School, McLean, Virginia, in 1974; received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics-Engineering from Washington & Lee University in 1978, a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1980, and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University in 1983. He also went to Harvard and Johns Hopkins.

Langley High School (Fairfax County, Virginia)

Langley High School is a high school within the Fairfax County Public Schools system in Northern Virginia. It is located in McLean, a census-designated place (CDP) in northern Fairfax County. The campus is located less than a mile west of the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters.

McLean, Virginia Census-designated place and Unincorporated Community in Virginia

McLean is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Fairfax County in Northern Virginia. McLean is home to many diplomats, businessmen, members of Congress, and high-ranking government officials partially due to its proximity to Washington, D.C. and the Central Intelligence Agency. It is the location of Hickory Hill, the former home of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy. It is also the location of Salona, the former home of Light-Horse Harry Lee, the Revolutionary War hero. The community had an estimated total population of 53,673 in 2015, according to estimates prepared by the United States Census Bureau. It is located between the Potomac River and the town of Vienna. McLean is often distinguished by its luxury homes and its nearby high-profit shopping destinations: the Tysons Corner Center and the Tysons Galleria. The two McLean zip codes - 22101 and 22102 - are among the most expensive ZIP Codes in Virginia and the United States. In 2018, data from the American Community Survey revealed that McLean was the 3rd wealthiest city in the United States, based on its poverty rate of 2.6% and its median household income of $190,258.

A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years, or a person holding such a degree.


American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is a professional society for the field of aerospace engineering. The AIAA is the U.S. representative on the International Astronautical Federation and the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences. In 2015, it had more than 30,000 members among aerospace professionals worldwide.

Omicron Delta Kappa

Omicron Delta Kappa (ΟΔΚ), also known as The Circle and ODK, is a national leadership honor society in the United States, with chapters, known as circles, at more than three hundred college campuses. It was founded December 3, 1914, at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, by fifteen student and faculty leaders. The society recognizes achievement in five areas: scholarship; athletics; campus and community service, social or religious activities, and campus government; journalism, speech and the mass media; and creative and performing arts. Some circles of ΟΔΚ are quasi-secret, in that newly selected members remain undisclosed for some time.

Phi Kappa Sigma North American collegiate fraternity

Phi Kappa Sigma (ΦΚΣ) is an international all-male college secret and social fraternity. While nicknames differ from institution to institution, the most common nicknames for the fraternity are Skulls, Skullhouse, Phi Kap, and PKS. Phi Kappa Sigma was founded by Dr. Samuel Brown Wylie Mitchell at the University of Pennsylvania. Mitchell recorded the initial ideas and concepts of Phi Kappa Sigma on August 16, 1850. He then began to discuss the idea with other students, first Charles Hare Hutchinson, and then Alfred Victor du Pont, John Thorne Stone, Andrew Adams Ripka, James Bayard Hodge, and Duane Williams. The seven men formally founded the fraternity on October 19, 1850 becoming the founding fathers of Phi Kappa Sigma Phi Kappa Sigma is a charter member of the North-American Interfraternity Conference, and since 2017, is headquartered in Carmel, Indiana. Prior to that, starting with its founding in 1850, the fraternity was based out of Philadelphia, Valley Forge and Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.

Awards and honors

NASA Space Flight Medal

The NASA Space Flight Medal is a decoration of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. According to its statutes, it is awarded "for significant achievement or service during individual participation as a civilian or military astronaut, pilot, mission specialist, payload specialist, or other space flight participant in a space flight mission." In practice, the medal is bestowed upon any astronaut who flies aboard a United States space mission, and typically every subsequent flight is honored with an additional award.

NASA Exceptional Service Medal

The NASA Exceptional Service Medal is an award granted to U.S. government employees for significant sustained performance characterized by unusual initiative or creative ability that clearly demonstrates substantial improvement in engineering, aeronautics, space flight, administration, support, or space-related endeavors which contribute to NASA programs.

NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal

The NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal is awarded to US government employees only for notably outstanding leadership which affects technical or administrative programs of NASA. The leadership award may be given for an act of leadership, for sustained contributions based on a leader’s effectiveness, for the productivity of the leader’s program, or for the leader’s demonstrated ability in developing the administrative or technical talents of other employees.

Aerospace career

Low worked in the Spacecraft Systems Engineering Section of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, from March 1980 until June 1984. During that time he was involved in the preliminary planning of several planetary missions, an Autonomous Spacecraft Maintenance study, and the systems engineering design of the Galileo spacecraft. Following a one-year leave to pursue graduate studies, Low returned to JPL where he was the principal spacecraft systems engineer for the Mars Geoscience/Climatology Orbiter mission.

NASA career

Selected by NASA in May 1984 as an astronaut candidate, Low became an astronaut in June 1985. He held a variety of technical assignments including work on the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), on Extra-vehicular activity (EVA), and Orbiter test and checkout tasks at the Kennedy Space Center. Low served as a spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) in the Mission Control Center during STS Missions 26, 27, 29 and 30. He also served as the lead astronaut in the Man-Systems Group and Station Operations Group of the Space Station Support Office. In 1993, Low was a member of the Russian Integration Team which worked for several months in Crystal City, Virginia to define the changes from the old Space Station Freedom to the new International Space Station. In 1994, he served as the Manager of the EVA Integration and Operations Office, and in 1995 he served as an assistant in the NASA Legislative Affairs Office where he worked with Members of the United States Congress and their staffs to keep them informed about NASA's aeronautics and space programs. A veteran of three space flights, Low logged over 714 hours in space, including nearly six hours on a spacewalk. He was a mission specialist on STS-32 (January 9–20, 1990) and STS-43 (August 2–11, 1991), and was the payload commander on STS-57 (June 21 to July 1, 1993).

Low left NASA in February 1996 to pursue an aerospace career with Orbital Sciences Corporation's Launch Systems Group in Dulles, VA.

Spaceflight experience

On his first mission, Low was a crew member on STS-32 which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on January 9, 1990. On board the Orbiter Columbia the crew successfully deployed the Syncom IV-F5 communications satellite, and retrieved the 21,400-pound Long Duration Exposure Facility (LDEF) using the RMS. They also operated a variety of middeck materials and life sciences experiments, as well as the IMAX camera. Following 173 orbits of the Earth in 261 hours, Columbia returned to a night landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on January 20, 1990.

Low next served as the flight engineer aboard the Orbiter Atlantis on STS-43. The nine-day mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on August 2, 1991. During the flight, crew members deployed the fifth Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-E), in addition to conducting 32 physical, material, and life science experiments, mostly relating to the Extended Duration Orbiter and Space Station Freedom. After 142 orbits of the Earth in 213 hours, the mission concluded with a landing on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center on August 11, 1991.

On STS-57, Low served as payload commander aboard the Orbiter Endeavour, which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 21, 1993. The primary objective of this flight was the retrieval of the European Retrievable Carrier satellite (EURECA) using the RMS. Additionally, this mission featured the first flight of Spacehab, a commercially provided middeck augmentation module for the conduct of microgravity experiments. Spacehab carried 22 individual flight experiments in materials and life sciences research. During the mission Low, along with crew mate Peter J.K. Wisoff, conducted a 5-hour, 50-minute spacewalk during which the EURECA communications antennas were manually positioned for latching, and various extravehicular activity (EVA) tools and techniques were evaluated for use on future missions. Endeavour landed at the Kennedy Space Center on July 1, 1993, after 155 orbits of the Earth in 239 hours.


  1. 1 2 Astronaut Bio: G. D. Low 3/2008
  2. Joe Holley, Washington Post Staff Writer (March 20, 2008). "Obituaries: G. David Low, 52: Cerebral Astronaut Flew on 3 Shuttles". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-03-21.

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