Who Are Astronauts From Kansas?

Who are astronauts from Kansas? Here’s a look at some of the most famous Kansas astronauts and what they’ve accomplished.

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Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong was an American astronaut and the first person to walk on the moon. He was born on August 5, 1930, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. After serving in the Korean War, Armstrong began his astronaut training in 1962. He made his first space flight in 1966 on the Gemini 8 mission. In 1969, he commanded the Apollo 11 mission and became the first person to walk on the moon.

Early Life

Armstrong was born on August 5, 1930, in Wapakoneta, Ohio, to Viola Louise (née Engel) and Stephen Koenig Armstrong. He married Carol Held Knight in 1999. The couple had two children together, Eric and Andrew; Neil also had a son, Rick, from a previous marriage. Armstrong was of German descent on his father’s side and Scots-Irish descent on his mother’s side; consequently, he had both British and Irish citizenship. He was also a descendant of Menendez and Falero, 16th-century Spanish explorers who settled in St. Augustine, Florida.


Armstrong’s first flight was on Gemini 8 in March 1966, becoming NASA’s first civilian astronaut to fly in space. He performed the first docking of two vehicles in space, and his craft commenced a safe return to Earth after an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean. During training for Apollo 11, Armstrong suffered a cervical fracture which caused him severe pain but he refused to take medication for it so that he would remain qualified to fly the mission.


Armstrong died on August 25, 2012, at the age of 82, due to complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

Jim Lovell

Jim Lovell (born March 25, 1928) is an American former astronaut, naval aviator, test pilot, and businessman. He is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, having flown there four times. Lovell was commander of the Apollo 13 mission, which was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded, and is therefore considered by many to be NASA’s “lucky 13”. He is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Early Life

Jim Lovell was born on March 25, 1928, in Cleveland, Ohio, to an electrician and a stay-at-home mom. When Lovell was 5 years old, the family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There he Contrary to popular belief, astronauts do not have to be pilots to fly in space; however, most of them are. Jim Lovell was one of those pilot astronauts. He is a retired U.S. Navy captain and former NASA astronaut who flew on four space missions, including the ill-fated Apollo 13 flight in 1970


Lovell began his astronaut career in 1962 with a spot on the second manned Gemini mission. He made three spaceflights in total as commander of Gemini 12, Apollo 8, and Apollo 13. He is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, the first person to fly there twice, and the only person to have flown there without making a landing.

In 1973, Lovell was appointed Chief of Operations for Skylab, the first American space station. He retired from NASA in 1996 after 34 years of service.


Jim Lovell was born in Cleveland, Ohio on March 25, 1928, but moved with his family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when he was 5 years old. After graduating from high school in 1946, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1950. He then entered the U.S. Navy and became a naval aviator. In 1955, he married Marilyn Lillie Gerlach; they had four children together.

Lovell began his astronaut career when he was chosen as one of the 14 original Mercury astronauts in 1959. He made his first space flight in 1965 as the pilot of Gemini 7, which completed 46 orbits of the Earth in 260 hours and 9 minutes. His second space flight was as the commander of Gemini 12 in 1966, which accomplished a rendezvous and docking with an Agena satellite and completed 71 orbits in 333 hours and 44 minutes.

In 1968, Lovell commanded Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft to orbit the moon. For this historic mission, he and fellow astronauts Frank Borman and William Anders became the first human beings to leave Earth’s gravitational field. They orbited the moon 10 times before returning safely to Earth on December 27 after a journey of almost 700,000 miles. This flight helped set the stage for the first manned lunar landing by Lovell’s Apollo 11 colleagues Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin less than six months later.

In 1970, Lovell served as commander of Apollo 13, which was launched on April 11 for a planned lunar landing mission. However, an explosion aboard the spacecraft forced Lovell and his fellow astronauts-Fred Haise and Jack Swigert-to abort their landing attempt and make use of all their ingenuity just to return safely to Earth on April 17. The successful conclusion of this dramatic mission was immortalized in the 1995 feature film Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell.

After leaving NASA in 1973, Lovell became vice president for operations at Fairey Marine Ltd., Cowes, England; however, he returned to NASA two years later as special assistant to Director Christopher Crippen at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C.. In 1976 he retired from both Fairey Marine Ltd., and NASA to become president of Bryden Inc., a Houston-based marine transportation company specializing in oil spill cleanups using ocean currents.. After successfully completing several difficult assignments for Bryden Inc., including cleanup operations following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska’s coast lovell retired from Bryden Inc.,in 1992

From 1995 until 2007 Jim Lovell served as President of JBL Enterprises LLC.,a management consulting business headquartered near his home town of Lake Geneva ,Wisconsin.. He also found time during this period to write two books about his experiences ;Lost Moon:The Perilous Voyage Of Apollo 13 ,(coauthored with Jeffrey Kluger)and Apollo 8:The Thrilling Story Of The First Mission To The Moon.(coauthored with Jeffrey Kluger) In 1998 ,Lovell also established The Jim Lovell Scholarship Foundation ,to provide college scholarships for deserving students attending Catholic high schools

Eileen Collins

Eileen Collins (born November 19, 1956) is an American retired astronaut and a two-time Space Shuttle commander. She was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. She flew on STS-63 (1995), STS-84 (1997), and STS-93 (1999), and was the commander of STS-93.

Early Life

Eileen Collins was born on November 19, 1956, in Elmira, New York. She is the oldest of five children and the only daughter. Her father, James Collins, was a U.S. Air Force pilot who served in World War II and later became a commercial airline pilot. Her mother, Rose Marie Collins, was a homemaker.

Collins attended Corning Community College in Corning, New York, where she received an Associate of Science degree in mathematics and science in 1976. She then transferred to Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. There she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical science in 1978 and a Master of Arts degree in computer science in 1979.


Eileen Collins (born November 19, 1956) is an American astronaut and a retired United States Air Force colonel. A former military instructor and test pilot, Collins was the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. She piloted the Space Shuttle during its maiden flight in 1981 and commanded it in 1999.

Collins has logged 38 days 8 hours and 10 minutes in outer space, including seven spacewalks totaling 41 hours and 21 minutes.


After her retirement from NASA in 2006, Collins became a business owner, public speaker and consultant. In October 2007, she founded Collins Aerospace, a Tuttle, Oklahoma-based company specializing in providing engineering and technical services to government and private sector clients.

Collins has also been active in encouraging young people to pursue careers in science and technology. In 2008, she accepted an appointment to the Board of Trustees of the United States Military Academy at West Point. She also served on President Barack Obama’s Committee on Science and Technology from 2009 to 2010.

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