Tracy Caldwell Dyson

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Tracy Caldwell Dyson
Tracy E Caldwell portrait.jpg
NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Active
Born (1969-08-14) August 14, 1969 (age 49)
Arcadia, California, U.S
Other occupation
California State University, Fullerton,
B.S. Chemistry 1993
University of California, Davis,
Ph.D. Chemistry 1997
Time in space
188 days, 19 hours, 14 minutes
Selection 1998 NASA Group
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
22 hours, 49 minutes
Missions STS-118, Soyuz TMA-18 (Expedition 23/24)
Mission insignia
STS-118 patch new.png Soyuz-TMA-18-Mission-Patch.png ISS Expedition 23 Patch.svg ISS Expedition 24 Patch.svg

Tracy Caldwell Dyson (born Tracy Ellen Caldwell; August 14, 1969) is an American chemist and NASA astronaut. Caldwell Dyson was a Mission Specialist on Space Shuttle Endeavour flight STS-118 in August 2007. She was part of the Expedition 24 crew on the International Space Station between April 4, 2010 and September 25, 2010. She has completed three spacewalks, logging more than 22 hrs of EVA including work to replace a malfunctioning coolant pump. [1] [2]

Chemist scientist trained in the study of chemistry

A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms. Chemists carefully measure substance proportions, reaction rates, and other chemical properties. The word 'chemist' is also used to address Pharmacists in Commonwealth English.

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.


Academic career

As an undergraduate researcher at the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), Caldwell Dyson designed, constructed and implemented electronics and hardware associated with a laser-ionization, time-of-flight mass spectrometer for studying atmospherically relevant gas-phase chemistry. [1]

California State University, Fullerton public university in Fullerton, California, United States, part of the California State University system

California State University, Fullerton is a public university in Fullerton, California. With a total enrollment of about 40,400, it has the largest student body out of the 23-campus California State University (CSU) system, and its approximately 5,800 graduate student body is also the largest in the CSU and one of the largest in all of California. As of Fall 2016, the school had 2,083 faculty, of which 782 were on the tenure track.

Also at CSUF, she worked for the Research and Instructional Safety Office as a lab assistant performing environmental monitoring of laboratories using hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials, as well as calibrating survey instruments and helping to process chemical and radioactive waste. During that time (and for many years prior) she also worked as an electrician/inside wireman for her father’s electrical contracting company doing commercial and light industrial type construction. [1]

At the University of California, Davis, Caldwell Dyson taught general chemistry laboratory and began her graduate research. Her dissertation work focused on investigating molecular-level surface reactivity and kinetics of metal surfaces using electron spectroscopy, laser desorption, and Fourier transform mass spectrometry techniques. She also designed and built peripheral components for a variable temperature, ultra-high vacuum scanning tunneling microscopy system. [1]

University of California, Davis public university located in Davis, California, United States

The University of California, Davis, is a public research university and land-grant university adjacent to Davis, California. It is part of the University of California (UC) system and has the third-largest enrollment in the UC System after UCLA and UC Berkeley. The institution was founded as a branch in 1909 and became its own separate entity in 1959. It has been labeled one of the "Public Ivies", a publicly funded university considered to provide a quality of education comparable to those of the Ivy League.

Electron spectroscopy is an analytical technique to study the electronic structure and its dynamics in atoms and molecules. In general an excitation source such as x-rays, electrons or synchrotron radiation will eject an electron from an inner-shell orbital of an atom. Detecting photoelectrons that are ejected by x-rays is called x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) or electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA). Detecting electrons that are ejected from higher orbitals to conserve energy during electron transitions is called Auger electron spectroscopy (AES).

Fourier transform mathematical transform that expresses a mathematical function of time as a function of frequency

The Fourier transform (FT) decomposes a function of time into the frequencies that make it up, in a way similar to how a musical chord can be expressed as the frequencies of its constituent notes. The Fourier transform of a function of time is itself a complex-valued function of frequency, whose absolute value represents the amount of that frequency present in the original function, and whose complex argument is the phase offset of the basic sinusoid in that frequency. The Fourier transform is called the frequency domain representation of the original signal. The term Fourier transform refers to both the frequency domain representation and the mathematical operation that associates the frequency domain representation to a function of time. The Fourier transform is not limited to functions of time, but in order to have a unified language, the domain of the original function is commonly referred to as the time domain. For many functions of practical interest, one can define an operation that reverses this: the inverse Fourier transformation, also called Fourier synthesis, of a frequency domain representation combines the contributions of all the different frequencies to recover the original function of time. In image processing the notion of a time domain is replaced by that of a spatial domain where the intensity of a signal is identified by its spatial position rather than at any point in time.

In 1997, Caldwell Dyson received the Camille and Henry Drefus Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Science to study atmospheric chemistry at the University of California, Irvine. There she investigated reactivity and kinetics of atmospherically relevant systems using atmospheric pressure ionization mass spectrometry, Fourier transform infrared and ultraviolet absorption spectroscopies. In addition, she developed methods of chemical ionization for spectral interpretation of trace compounds. Caldwell Dyson has published and presented her work in numerous papers at technical conferences and in scientific journals. [1]

Atmospheric chemistry The branch of atmospheric science in which the chemistry of the atmosphere is studied

Atmospheric chemistry is a branch of atmospheric science in which the chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere and that of other planets is studied. It is a multidisciplinary approach of research and draws on environmental chemistry, physics, meteorology, computer modeling, oceanography, geology and volcanology and other disciplines. Research is increasingly connected with other areas of study such as climatology.

University of California, Irvine public research university in Irvine, California, United States

The University of California, Irvine, is a public research university located in Irvine, California. It is one of the 10 campuses in the University of California (UC) system. UC Irvine offers 80 undergraduate degrees and 98 graduate and professional degrees. The university is classified as a Research I university and in fiscal year 2013 had $348 million in research and development expenditures according to the National Science Foundation. UC Irvine became a member of the Association of American Universities in 1996 and is the youngest university to hold membership. It is considered to be one of the "Public Ivies", meaning that it is among those publicly funded universities thought to provide a quality of education comparable to that of the Ivy League.

Caldwell Dyson during celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, 2009 TracyCaldwellByPhilKonstantin.jpg
Caldwell Dyson during celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, 2009

NASA career

Selected by NASA in June 1998, Caldwell Dyson reported for training in August 1998. Her Astronaut Candidate Training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) systems, physiological training, ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques. Completion of this training and evaluation qualified her for flight assignment as a mission specialist.

International Space Station Habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit

The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit. Its first component was launched into orbit in 1998, with the first long-term residents arriving in November 2000. It has been inhabited continuously since that date. The last pressurised module was fitted in 2011, and an experimental inflatable space habitat was added in 2016. The station is expected to operate until 2030. Development and assembly of the station continues, with several new elements scheduled for launch in 2019. The ISS is the largest human-made body in low Earth orbit and can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth. The ISS consists of pressurised habitation modules, structural trusses, solar arrays, radiators, docking ports, experiment bays and robotic arms. ISS components have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets and American Space Shuttles.

In 1999, Caldwell Dyson was assigned to the Astronaut Office ISS Operations Branch as a Russian Crusader, participating in the testing and integration of Russian hardware and software products developed for ISS. In 2000, she was assigned prime Crew Support Astronaut for the ISS Expedition 5 crew, serving as their representative on technical and operational issues throughout the training and on-orbit phase of their mission.

During ISS Expeditions 4 through 6, Caldwell Dyson also served as an ISS spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) inside Mission Control. In 2003, she made a transition to the Astronaut Shuttle Operations Branch and was assigned to flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) and also worked supporting launch and landing operations at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Caldwell Dyson also served as Lead CAPCOM for Expedition 11.

Caldwell Dyson was assigned to, and later flew on STS-118, Space Shuttle Endeavour, on August 8–21, 2007, which was the 119th space shuttle flight, the 22nd flight to the station, and the 20th flight for Endeavour. Caldwell Dyson was assigned as Mission Specialist #1 on this flight. During the mission Endeavour's crew successfully added another truss segment, a new gyroscope and external spare parts platform to the International Space Station. A new system that enables docked shuttles to draw electrical power from the station to extend visits to the outpost was activated successfully. A total of four spacewalks (EVAs) were performed by three crew members. Endeavour carried some 5,000 pounds of equipment and supplies to the station and returned to Earth with some 4,000 pounds of hardware and no longer needed equipment. Traveling 5.3 million miles in space, the STS-118 mission was completed in 12 days, 17 hours, 55 minutes and 34 seconds. Finally, during the flight of STS-118, Caldwell Dyson celebrated her 38th birthday in space.

On April 4, 2010, Caldwell Dyson joined the Expedition 23 crew aboard ISS. She lifted off on April 2, 2010 from the Baikonur spaceport aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule (Soyuz TMA-18). After 176 days duty as part of the Expedition 24 crew, she returned to Earth with the Soyuz TMA-18 landing unit. Together with commander Aleksandr Skvortsov and flight engineer Mikhail Korniyenko, Dyson landed in Kazakhstan on September 25, 2010. [3]

In a television interview on the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, she said she is the first astronaut who was born after Apollo 11. [4]

As Tracy Dyson, she is the host of a series on NASA TV called StationLife, which focuses on facets of life aboard the International Space Station. [5]

She appeared on Episode 3 of MasterChef Junior Season 4. [6]

On March 21, 2017, Dyson stood behind President Trump as he signed a bill for NASA to send humans to Mars in 2030s and receive $19.5 billion in 2018 funding. Dyson and fellow NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy presented Trump with an official flight jacket during the ceremony. [7]

Personal life

Caldwell Dyson, the younger of two girls, was born in Arcadia, California, [1] and later moved to Beaumont, California, in the early 1980s to attend junior high school where her father worked as an electrician. Her recreational interests include running, weight training, hiking, softball, basketball, and auto repair/maintenance. As an undergraduate, she competed in intercollegiate athletics on the CSUF Titans track team as both a sprinter and long jumper. [1]

Caldwell Dyson is a private pilot and conversational in American Sign Language (ASL) and Russian. [8]

She is married to Naval Aviator George Dyson. [2] She is also the lead vocalist for the all-astronaut band Max Q. [9]

In 2011, Caldwell Dyson served as the guest judge on a space-themed episode of the Food Network show Cupcake Wars . [10]

Caldwell Dyson advised Jessica Chastain when the actress was preparing to appear as an astronaut and mission commander in the 2015 movie The Martian. Chastain said she was very inspired by Caldwell Dyson. [11]

She believes in God, [12] and was raised Methodist,[ citation needed ] but no specific claimed religious affiliation of hers was ever publicly available as an adult.



Caldwell Dyson belongs to the Sigma Xi Research Society and the American Chemical Society.

Awards and honors

Caldwell Dyson in the Cupola module of the International Space Station observing Earth. Tracy Caldwell Dyson in Cupola ISS.jpg
Caldwell Dyson in the Cupola module of the International Space Station observing Earth.

See also

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PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from websites or documents ofthe National Aeronautics and Space Administration .

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Tracy Caldwell Dyson Biographical Data". October 2010. NASA. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 Wesson, Gail. "BEAUMONT: Astronaut talks about her space adventure, return". October 18, 2010. The Press Enterprise. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  3. "Soyuz TMA-18 Descent Module Landing Photos".
  4. "Astronaut Tracy Caldwell & "Officer Phil" Konstantin's KUSI TV 9/51 Page".
  5. "Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson hosts NASA show". Atmospheric Integrated Research at University of California, Irvine. January 19, 2015. Retrieved November 2, 2015.
  6. Viralvideoz007 (2016-01-01). "MasterChef Junior Season 4 Episode 3 - Hashtag Best Day Ever [HDTV]". Dailymotion. Retrieved 2017-12-03.
  7. President Trump Signs NASA Authorization Bill , retrieved 2017-03-21
  8. "Astronaut Biography: Tracy E. Caldwell". Retrieved 2017-01-14.
  9. Nemiroff, R.; Bonnell, J., eds. (November 15, 2010). "Home from Above". Astronomy Picture of the Day . NASA . Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  10. "Cupcake Wars Recap: The Final Frontier - FN Dish – Food Network Blog". June 30, 2011.
  11. "The Martian - Jessica Chastain & Tracy Dyson Junket Interview".
  12. NASA Preflight Interview of Tracy Caldwell Dyson, 23 March 2010. Dyson says of her education and early career: "but I think God planted enough people in my life that said, you need to just follow your heart, you need to do what interests you." URL: