|A Year of Indiana History - 2016|
On April 12, 1985, Astronaut Donald Williams logged his first flight aboard the space shuttle Discovery.
The son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Williams, Donald is a native of Green Hills, Indiana. After graduating from Otterbein High School in 1960, Williams attended Purdue University, graduating in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering.
While at Purdue, he enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), receiving a commission as an officer. After graduation, Williams received his Naval Aviator wings in May 1966 after completing flight schools at Pensacola, Florida, Meridian, Mississippi and Kingsville, Texas. Upon receiving his wings, he served two deployments during the Vietnam War aboard the USS Enterprise. During his war service, he logged over 330 combat missions. His flight time included 5,700 hours in jets and 745 carrier landings.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) selected him for astronaut training in 1978. He completed training in 1979. Before his first shuttle flight, Williams served in various administrative capacities at Johnson Space Center.
Shuttle Discovery Flight
NASA selected him to serve as pilot for the shuttle flight STS-51D. This was Discovery's fourth flight and the sixteenth overall shuttle mission. The flight launched on April 12, 1985. During the mission, the crew launched two satellites, the ANIK-C for Telesat of Canada, and Syncom IV-3 for the U.S. Navy. The crew also conducted several medical experiments and filmed experiments with toys in space. The flight completed 168 hours of orbital operations, and 109 orbits of the earth before landing on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center on April 19, 1985.
Williams would complete one other flight, on the Space Shuttle Atlantis on a five-day mission in October 1989.
A Year of Indiana History - 2016
© Paul Wonning