Richard M. “Mike” Mullane was born on September 10, 1945, in Wichita Falls, Texas but considers Albuquerque, New Mexico his hometown. His father was a flight engineer in the U.S. Air Force and “Mike” became fascinated with airplanes and flying at a young age. He graduated from St. Pius X Catholic High School in Albuquerque in 1963, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Military Engineering from the United States Military Academy in 1967. He was awarded a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1975.
Mullane completed 150 combat missions as an RF-4C weapon system operator while stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam from January to November 1969. He then served a four-year tour of duty in England. In July 1976, upon completing the U.S. Air Force Flight Test Engineer Course at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California he was assigned as a flight test weapon system operator to the 3246th Test Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida.
Selected by NASA in January 1978, Mullane became an astronaut in August 1979. He has flown on three Space Shuttle missions, serving as a Mission Specialist on STS-41D in 1984, STS-27 in 1988, and STS-36 in 1990.
Mike Mullane first entered space aboard STS-41D, launched from Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida, on August 30, 1984, as were all his missions. This was the maiden flight of the Orbiter Discovery. During this mission, the crew successfully activated the OAST-1 solar cell wing experiment, deployed three satellites, and operated the student crystal growth experiment and photography experiments using the IMAX motion picture camera. Discovery completed 96 orbits of the earth in 145 hours before landing at Edwards AFB, California, on September 5, 1984.
Mullane’s next space mission was STS-27 Atlantis which launched on December 2, 1988. The mission carried a classified DOD (Department of Defense) payload, as well as a number of secondary payloads. After 68 orbits of the earth in 105 hours, the mission concluded with a landing at Edwards on December 6, 1988.
Mike Mullane next served on STS-36 Atlantis, launched on February 28, 1990. This mission also carried classified DOD payloads and a number of secondary payloads. After 72 orbits of the earth and 1,920,000 miles, STS-36 concluded with a landing at Edwards on March 4, 1990.
With the completion of his third flight, Mullane has logged a total of 356 hours in space.
Colonel Mullane retired from NASA and the Air Force in 1990. Since then he has written an award-winning children’s book, Liftoff! An Astronaut’s Dream and a popular space-fact book Do Your Ears Pop In Space? His autobiography, Riding Rockets, was published in January 2006. Mullane has also served as a host for Inside Space, a nationally syndicated cable television program of the USA Network. His entertaining presentations of “Stories From Space” have been eagerly solicited by organizations of all kinds – from Fortune 500 companies to professional associations, from societies to schools and universities.
As a professional speaker, Mike Mullane has thrilled tens of thousands of adults and a half-million children with his inspirational, motivational and humorous descriptions of the astronaut experience.
Colonel Mike Mullane has received six Air Medals, the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, and Air Force Commendation Medal, and NASA Space Flight Medal; named a Distinguished Graduate of the USAF Navigator Training School (and recipient of its Commander’s Trophy), the USAF Institute of Technology; and the USAF Test Pilot School.