Robert D. Cabana

From Academic Kids

Robert D. Cabana (Colonel, USMC, Ret.) is the Deputy Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center.


Personal data

Born January 23, 1949, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where his parents still reside. Married to the former Nancy Joan Shimer of Cortland, New York. Three children, Jeffrey, Christopher and Sarah. He enjoys jogging, cycling, softball, sailing, and woodworking.


  • 1967: Graduated from Washburn High School, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 1971: Received a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from the United States Naval Academy


  • Member of the Association of Space Explorers
  • Associate Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Special honors


After graduation from the Naval Academy, Cabana attended the Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, and completed naval flight officer training in Pensacola, Florida, in 1972. He served as an A-6 Intruder bombardier/navigator with Marine Air Wings in Cherry Point, North Carolina, and Iwakuni, Japan. He returned to Pensacola in 1975 for pilot training and was designated a naval aviator in September 1976. He was then assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing in Cherry Point, North Carolina, where he flew A-6 Intruders. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in 1981, and served at the Naval Air Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, as the A-6 program manager, X-29 advanced technology demonstrator project officer, and as a test pilot for flight systems and ordnance separation testing on A-6 and A-4 Skyhawk series aircraft. Prior to his selection as an astronaut candidate he was serving as the Assistant Operations Officer of Marine Aircraft Group Twelve in Iwakuni, Japan. Cabana retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in August 2000.

He has logged over 6,000 hours in 34 different kinds of aircraft.

NASA experience

Selected by NASA in June 1985, Cabana completed initial astronaut training in July 1986, qualifying for assignment as a pilot on future Space Shuttle flight crews. His initial assignment was as the Astronaut Office Space Shuttle flight software coordinator until November 1986. At that time he was assigned as the Deputy Chief of Aircraft Operations for the Johnson Space Center where he served for 2-1/2 years. He then served as the lead astronaut in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) where the Orbiter's flight software is tested prior to flight. Cabana has served as a spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) in Mission Control during Space Shuttle missions, and as Chief of Astronaut Appearances. Prior to his assignment to command STS-88, Cabana served three years as the Chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office. Following STS-88, Cabana served as the Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations. After joining the ISS Program in October 1999, Cabana served as Manager for International Operations. From August 2001 to September 2002, he served as Director, Human Space Flight Programs, Russia. As NASA's lead representative to the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviakosmos) and its contractors, he provided oversight of all human space flight operations, logistics, and technical functions, including NASA's mission operations in Korolev and crew training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City. Upon his return to Houston, Cabana was assigned briefly as the Deputy Manager, International Space Station (ISS) Program. From November 2000 to March 2004 he served as Director, Flight Crew Operations Directorate, responsible for directing the day-to-day activities of the directorate, including the Astronaut Corps and aircraft operations at Ellington Field. Cabana currently serves as Deputy Director, Johnson Space Center. A veteran of four space flights, Cabana has logged over 1,010 hours in space. He served as pilot on STS-41 (October 6-10, 1990) and STS-53 (December 2-9, 1992), and was mission commander on STS-65 (July 8-23, 1994) and STS-88 (December 4-15, 1998) the first International Space Station assembly mission.

Space flight experience

STS-41 Discovery launched on October 6, 1990 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on October 10, 1990. During 66 orbits of the Earth, the five-man crew successfully deployed the Ulysses spacecraft, starting the interplanetary probe on its four-year journey, via Jupiter, to investigate the polar regions of the Sun; operated the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet instrument (SSBUV) to map atmospheric ozone levels; activated a controlled "fire in space" experiment (the Solid Surface Combustion Experiment, or SSCE); and conducted numerous other middeck experiments involving radiation measurements, polymer membrane production, and microgravity effects on plants.

STS-53 Discovery launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on December 2, 1992. The crew of five deployed the classified Department of Defense payload DOD-1 and then performed several Military-Man-in-Space and NASA experiments. After completing 115 orbits of the Earth in 175 hours, Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on December 9, 1992.

STS-65 Columbia launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on July 8, 1994, returning to Florida on July 23, 1994. The crew conducted the second International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2) mission utilizing the long Spacelab module in the payload bay. The flight consisted of 82 experiments from 15 countries and six space agencies from around the world. During the record setting 15-day flight, the crew conducted experiments which focused on materials and life sciences research in a microgravity environment paving the way for future operations and cooperation aboard International Space Station. The mission was accomplished in 236 orbits of the Earth in 353 hours and 55 minutes.

STS-88 Endeavour (December 4-15, 1998) was the first International Space Station assembly mission. During the 12-day mission, Unity, the U.S. built node, was mated with Zarya, the Russian built Functional Cargo Block (FGB). Two crewmembers performed three space walks to connect umbilicals and attach tools/hardware in the assembly and outfitting of the station. Additionally, the crew performed the initial activation and first ingress of the International Space Station preparing it for future assembly missions and full time occupation. The crew also performed IMAX Cargo Bay Camera (ICBC) operations, and deployed two satellites, Mighty Sat 1 built by the USAF Phillips Laboratory and SAC-A the first successful launch of an Argentine satellite. The mission was accomplished in 185 orbits of the Earth in 283 hours and 18 minutes.

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