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Joe Henry Engle

Joseph H. Engle [NASA]

Joe Henry Engle


Born 26 August 1932, Dickinson County, Kansas; home - Chapman, Kansas. Married to the former Mary Catherine Lawrence of Mission Hills, Kansas. Two grown children. Recreational interests include flying (including World War II fighter aircraft), big game hunting, back-packing, and athletics.


Attended primary and secondary schools in Chapman Kansas, and is a graduate of Dickinson County High School; received a bachelor of science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1955.


Member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP).


For flight testing of the NASA-USAF X-15 research rocket airplane, he received the: USAF Astronaut Wings (1964); USAF Distinguished Flying Cross (1964); AFA Outstanding Young USAF Officer of 1964; U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce -- Ten Outstanding Young Men in America (1964); AIAA Lawrence Sperry Award for Flight Research (1966); AIAA Pioneer of Flight Award (1965)

For flight testing of the Space Shuttle Enterprise during the Approach and Landing Test program in 1977, he received the: USAF Distinguished Flying Cross (1978); SETP Ivan C. Kincheloe Award for Flight Test (1977); NASA Exceptional Service Medal o NASA Special Achievement Award; AFA David C. Schilling Award for Flight; AIAA Haley Space Flight Award for 1980; AAS Flight Achievement Award o Soaring Society of America - Certificate of Achievement

For the orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia during STS-2 in November 1981, he received the: Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal; NASA Distinguished Service Medal; Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy; Thomas D. White Space Trophy; Robert J. Collier Trophy; Clifford B. Harmon International Trophy; Kansan of the Year, 1981; Distinguished Service Award, University of Kansas 1982; Distinguished Engineering Service Award, University of Kansas 1982; DAR Medal of Honor, 1981

For the satellite repair mission aboard Space Shuttle Discovery in September 1985, he received the:USAF Distinguished Service Medal


Engle received his commission in the Air Force through the AFROTC Program at the University of Kansas and entered flying school in 1957. He served with the 474th Fighter Day Squadron and the 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron at George Air Force Base, California. He is a graduate of the USAF Experimental Test Pilot School and the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School. - more - Engle was a test pilot in the X-15 research program at Edwards Air Force Base, California, from June 1963 until his assignment to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Three of his 16 flights in the X-15 exceeded an altitude of 50 miles (the altitude that qualifies a pilot for astronaut rating). Prior to that time, he was a test pilot in the Fighter Test Group at Edwards.

He has flown over 155 different types of aircraft during his career (25 different fighters), logging more than 12,400 hours flight time--9,000 in jet aircraft.


Engle was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966.

He was back-up lunar module pilot for the Apollo 14 mission.

He was commander of one of the two crews that flew the Space Shuttle approach and landing test flights from June through October 1977. The Space Shuttle Enterprise was carried to 25,000 feet on top of the Boeing 747 carrier aircraft, and then released for its two minute glide flight to landing. In this series of flight tests, he evaluated the Orbiter handling qualities and landing characteristics, and obtained the stability and control, and performance data in the subsonic flight envelope for the Space Shuttle. Engle and Dick Truly flew the first flight of the Space Shuttle in the orbital configuration. He was the back-up commander for STS-1, the first orbital test flight of Space Shuttle Columbia. He was spacecraft commander on STS-2 and STS-51I, and has logged over 225 hours in space

He served as Deputy Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight at NASA Headquarters from March 1982 to December 1982. He retained his flight astronaut status and returned to the Johnson Space Center in January 1983.

Joe Engle retired from the United States Air Force on 30 November 1986. On December 1, 1986 he was appointed to the Kansas Air National Guard and subsequently promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. He is currently an Aerospace and Sporting Goods Consultant, and continues an active flying career in high performance aircraft.


STS-2 (November 12-14, 1981), the second orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia, was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Engle's pilot for this flight was Dick Truly. Despite a mission shortened from 5 days to 2 days because of a failed fuel cell, the crew accomplished more than 90% of the objectives set for STS-2 before returning to a landing on the dry lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Major test objectives included the first tests in space of the 50-foot remote manipulator arm. Also, twenty-nine flight test maneuvers were performed during the entry profile at speeds from Mach 24 (18,500 mph) to subsonic. These maneuvers were designed to extract aerodynamic and aerothermodynamic data during hypersonic entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Mission duration was 36 earth orbits in 54 hours, 13 minutes, 12 seconds.

STS-51I (August 27 to 3 September 1985) launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The crew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery included the pilot, Dick Covey, and three mission specialists, Bill Fisher, Mike Lounge, and Ox van Hoften. STS-51I was acknowledged as the most successful Space Shuttle mission yet flown. The crew deployed three communications satellites, the Navy SYNCOM IV-4, the Australian AUSSAT, and American Satellite Company's ASC-1. The crew also performed the successful on-orbit rendezvous and repair of the ailing 15,000 lb SYNCOM IV-3 satellite. This repair activity saw the first manual grapple and manual deployment of a satellite by a crew member. STS-51I completed 112 earth orbits in 171 hours, 17 minutes, 42 seconds before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California

# Mission Function Launch Landing Duration Remarks:
(1) X-15 A 3F44 Commander 29.06.1965 29.06.1965 0000:00:?? suborbital
(2) X-15 A 3F46 Commander 10.08.1965 10.08.1965 0000:00:?? suborbital
(3) X-15 A 1F61 Commander 14.10.1965 14.10.1965 0000:00:?? suborbital
1 STS-2 Commander 12.11.1981 14.11.1981 0002:06:13
2 STS-27 (STS-51I) Commander 27.08.1985 03.09.1985 0007:02:17
Total: 0009:08:30


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