Catherine "Cady" Coleman

Air Force Colonel (RET) & Retired NASA Astronaut from Massachusetts


Cady has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from MIT (1983) and a Doctorate in polymer science and engineering from UMass in Amherst (1991). While continuing graduate work for a PhD, she joined the US Air Force as a Second Lieutenant. In 1988 she entered active duty at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a research chemist. Cady participated as a surface analysis consultant on the NASA Long Duration Exposure Facility experiment. In 1991 she received her doctorate with her dissertation research focused on polymer synthesis.

Cady was selected by NASA in 1992 to join the Astronaut Corps. In 1995 she was a member of the STS-73 crew on the scientific mission, with experiments including biotechnology, combustion science and the physics of fluids. Cady orbited the Earth 256 times and traveled over 6 million miles. STS-93 was her second mission in 1999, and she served as a mission specialist in charge of placing the Chandra X-ray Observatory in orbit using the shuttle's robotic arm. She later went on the serve as Chief of Robotic Arm Operations and training for all shuttle and space station missions. During mission STS-116, when a station solar panel array became stuck in mid-retraction, Coleman led the team responsible for devising its recovery. For ISS Expeditions 26 and 27, Coleman served as a flight engineer aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and spent 159 days in space, acting as the lead robotic arm operator, capturing the "Kounotori," making the second-ever free flyer robotic capture aboard the ISS. She logged more than 4,330 hours in space between her time on the space shuttle and the ISS.

"It's a magical place," Coleman says of space, "it's very addictive." Besides affirming that she earned "the most impossible dream job," Coleman states simply, "We're learning about Mars because we're going there."

While volunteering as a test subject for the centrifuge program at the Armstrong Aeromedical Laboratory, Cady set several endurance and tolerance records. She retired from the Air Force in 2009.

Cady has taken several flutes to space including a flute belonging to the musician, Jethro Tull. She also served as a technical consultant to actress Sandra Bullock for the science fiction film "Gravity," which won seven Academy Awards. On December 1, 2016, Cady retired from NASA.

Cady is married to glass artist Josh Simpson. They have one son and live in Massachusetts.


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