On this day in Alabama history: Nancy Jan Davis completed last space flight

On this day in Alabama history: Nancy Jan Davis completed last space flight
Alabama astronauts Jan Davis (left) and Mae Jemison served as mission specialists on the space shuttle Endeavour in September 1992. Davis would go on to serve on two additional shuttle missions and then become an administrator at NASA. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, photo courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

August 19, 1997

Nancy Jan Davis and the crew of the Discovery landed at Kennedy Space Center after a 12-day mission that included 189 orbits and 4.7 million miles around the Earth. It was her third space shuttle mission. Her first, aboard the Endeavor, was in 1992. Her second, also on Discovery, was in 1994. Davis was born in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and moved with her family to Huntsville when she was in elementary school. She joined NASA in 1979 and qualified as an astronaut in 1987. Among the highlights of her long career with the space agency was her role after the 1986 Challenger explosion as lead engineer for the redesign of the O-rings that sealed the two solid rocket boosters to the external tank of the remaining space shuttles. Davis retired from NASA in 2005 and continues to work with a NASA contractor at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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