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Milam County, Texas - Famous People & Families

Astrocaut Ken Cockrell




STS98-E-5006 (8 February 2001) --- Astronaut Kenneth D. Cockrell, mission commander, prepares to use a camera on the mid deck of the Space Shuttle Atlantis during early stages of the STS-98 mission. (NASA Photo)




The Rockdale Reporter, Thursday, 7 December 7, 2000

"Rockdale Native Cockrell to Command Shuttle Mission"

Rockdale’s Ken Cockrell will make news in Florida next month and it won’t involve any recounts. Just a countdown.

Cockrell is commander of the space shuttle Atlantis which is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral on Jan. 18. Its 10-day mission will deliver the United State laboratory to the International Space Station now in orbit.

It will be the fourth trip into space for the 1968 Rockdale High School graduate and his second as commander. He previously commanded the shuttle Columbia in a 1996 mission.

Atlantis is tentatively scheduled to lift off at 3 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on Jan. 18. Launches are notorious for delays. "The launch time is final when the rocket motors light and the shuttle clears the launch tower," Rosalind Hobgood, crew secretary, said.

In addition to docking the shuttle with the space station and landing the giant spacecraft, Cockrell will be responsible for activating the laboratory, the mission’s "payload."

Other members of the Atlantis crew are Mark Polansky of Edison, New Jersey, Marsha Ivins of Wallingford, Pennsylvania and two Baltimore, Maryland, residents, Thomas Jones and Robert L. Curbeam, Jr.

The shuttle will spend six days docked to the space station while the laboratory is attached. Three spacewalks are planned to complete the assembly.

Atlantis’ mission will occur while the first space station crew is aboard.

RHS GRAD—Cockrell, 50, was born April 9, 1950, in Austin. He attended Rockdale Elementary School while his father, Dale Cockrell, was employed at Alcoa’s Rockdale Operations.

Dale Cockrell was transferred by Alcoa when Ken Cockrell was in the sixth grade and the family spent several years in Australia but then returned to Rockdale for Ken’s senior year.

He graduated from Rockdale High School in 1968 and received Alcoa Foundation scholarship that year.

Cockrell received a bachelor of science degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 1972 and a master of science degree from The University of West Florida (Pensacola) in 1974.

He spent 17 years in the U. S. Navy, flying over 7,500 hours and logging 650 carrier landings.

ASTRONAUT—He was selected as an astronaut in 1990. Cockrell was a mission specialist aboard Discovery in 1993 and, that same spring, delivered the commencement address to the Rockdale High School graduating class.

In September, 1995, he was pilot aboard Endeavour, which deployed and retrieved a satellite and free-flying facility to grow semiconductors.

After his 1996 flight aboard Columbia, Cockrell had logged 906 hours in shuttles. The Atlantis flight should add 206 more to that total, making him one of the few persons with more than 1,000 hours in space.




Rockdale Reporter, Thursday, 25 January 2001

"Cockrell’s date with Destiny is Feb. 7th
by Mike Brown, Reporter Editor"

Rockdale’s Ken Cockrell has a date with destiny this week.

That’s not a figure of speech. The 1968 Rockdale High School graduate is commander of the space shuttle Atlantis which is scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 5:11 p.m. (Rockdale time) on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

Destiny is the American laboratory that the Atlantis crew will deliver, and install, to the International Space Station, now in orbit about the earth and manned by American Bill Shepherd and Russians Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says shuttle launch times are regarded as definite only "when the booster rockets clear the tower" and that’s certainly been the case with this launch.

Originally set for Jan. 19, Atlantis’ launch was delayed three weeks as NASA re-checked shuttle rocket cables. The shuttle, and rockets, returned to the launch pad on Friday.

PAYLOAD–Destiny will significantly expand the space station’s capabilities, according to Roy Bridges, Kennedy Space Center flight director.

"The lab will be the site of many scientific experiments that will enable us to learn more about gravity and its effects on biological and physiological processes," Bridges said.

At 14 feet in diameter and 26 feet in length, the lab contains 24 large racks, the size of refrigerator-freezers, which will be fully outfitted on following space station missions, he said.

Other crew members are Mark Polansky of Edison, New Jersey, Marsha Ivins of Wallingford, Pennsylvania and a pair of Baltimore, Maryland, residents, Thomas Jones and Robert L. Curbeam Jr.

NATIVE–Cockrell was born April 9, 1950, in Austin. He attended Rockdale Elementary School, and started Rockdale Junior-High School, while his father, Dale Cockrell, was employed at Alcoa’s Rockdale Operations.

Dale Cockrell was transferred by Alcoa when Ken Cockrell was in the sixth grade and the family spent several years in Australia, returning to Rockdale for Ken’s senior year.

He graduated from Rockdale High School in 1968 and received an Alcoa Foundation scholarship that year.

Cockrell received a bachelor of science degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 1972 and master of science from The University of West Florida (Pensacola) in 1974.

He spent 17 years in the U. S. Navy, flying over 7,500 hours and logging 650 carrier landings.

Cockrell was selected as an astronaut in 1990. Each of his missions has been aboard a different shuttle.

His first trip into space was as a mission specialist aboard Discovery in 1993. He was pilot aboard Endeavour in 1995 and commanded a Columbia mission in 1996.

The Atlantis total should add 206 more hours to his "space time," making him one of the few persons with more than 1,000 hours in space.




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Created on 15 Feb 2001 and last revised on 4 March 2003.