AMHERST, Mass. – NASA astronaut and University of Massachusetts Amherst alumna Catherine “Cady” Coleman will give a public talk, “International Space Station Bound: A Day in the Life of a Scientist Astronaut,” on Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. in Room 119 of E Lab II on the Amherst campus. The event is free and open to the public and a reception follows the talk.
Coleman, who is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, is currently training for a mission to the International Space Station scheduled for the fall of 2010 during which she will spend six months in space.
Coleman is a veteran astronaut. She joined NASA in 1992 and has been on two Space Shuttle missions in 1995 and 1999, both aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. In 1999, she was on a five-day mission that included deploying the $1.3 billion Chandra X-ray Observatory, a device that is still operating and sending images back to scientists on Earth. UMass Amherst astronomer Daniel Q. Wang has used the orbiting Chandra telescope in his research about the makeup of the Milky Way Galaxy and the nature of black holes in space.
During the 1995 mission, Coleman was part of a crew that flew the Shuttle Columbia on a 15-day mission that focused on microgravity experiments on how liquids behave in low gravity.
Coleman lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, glass artist Josh Simpson, and their son Jamey. She has been a frequent visitor to the area, often visiting schools. She is also a high-visibility supporter of UMass and has appeared in two television commercials promoting the school.
Coleman earned her doctorate in polymer science and engineering from UMass Amherst in 1991 and earned her bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983. She also received an honorary doctorate from UMass in 1996 at the dedication of the Conte National Center for Polymer Research.