On this day in 1955, Eastpointe, MI native Capt. Jerry M. Linenger (USN, Ret.) was born.
Captain Linenger received a bachelor of science degree in bioscience from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1977; a doctorate in medicine from Wayne State University in 1981; a master of science degree in systems management from University of Southern California in 1988; a master of public health degree in health policy from the University of North Carolina in 1989; a doctor of philosophy degree in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina in 1989.
He was selected in the fourteenth group of astronauts in 1992. His first mission was as mission specialist of STS-64 Discovery in September 1994. On January 12, 1997 he was launched on STS-81 Discovery (piloted by Pontiac-native Brent Jett) for 4-1/2 months onboard the Russian space station Mir. During his stay, Linenger became the first American to conduct a spacewalk from a foreign space station and in a non-American made spacesuit. Despite the difficulties he and his crewmates faced, such as the most severe fire ever aboard an orbiting spacecraft, failures of onboard systems, a near collision with a resupply cargo ship, loss of station electrical power, and loss of attitude control resulting in a slow, uncontrolled “tumble” through space, he still managed to accomplish 100 percent of his mission objectives. He returned to Earth on May 24, 1997 along with the crew of STS-84 Atlantis.
Captain Linenger has been awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award, Wayne State University School of Medicine, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Battle Efficiency Award, Navy Commendation Medal with gold star, and two NASA Space Flight Medals. He was also the top graduate of the Naval Flight Surgeon Training and Naval Safety Officer’s School. Captain Linenger, who orbited Earth over 2000 times over 143 days, 2 hours and 50 minutes in space, retired from NASA and the US Navy in January 1998. He has authored two books: “Off the Planet“, and “Letters from Mir“.
The first photo shows Capt. Linenger enjoying an inflatable birthday cake while celebrating his 42nd birthday on STS-81 Atlantis while beginning his 4-1/2 month tour on Mir.
The second photo shows his flightsuit, uniforms, and other donated items on display at the Michigan Heroes Museum.