Edward T. Lu, a NASA astronaut and graduate of Cornell's School of Electrical Engineering (B.S. 1984), is scheduled to lift off into space on May 15 from the Kennedy Space Center.
Lu, 34, is one of six "mission specialists" on the eight-member crew assigned to space shuttle Atlantis, which is scheduled for a pre-dawn launch on Thursday, May 15. It will be the sixth shuttle mission to rendezvous and dock with the Russian Space Station Mir.
Lu, who graduated from R.L. Thomas High School, Webster, N.Y., in 1980, is the second graduate of Cornell's School of Electrical Engineering to fly in space. Daniel T. Barry (B.S. 1975) flew aboard the shuttle Endeavour Jan. 11-20, 1996, and performed a six-hour, nine-minute space walk designed to demonstrate and evaluate techniques to be used in the assembly of the International Space Station.
Other Cornell alumni to fly in space for NASA include: G. David Low (B.S. mechanical and aerospace engineering, 1980); Mae Jemison (M.D., 1981); and Martin Fettman (B.S. animal science '76, M.S. nutrition '80, D.V.M. '80). Jay C. Buckey Jr. (B.S. electrical engineering '77, M.D. '81), 39, is scheduled to fly in space early next year. Buckey is associate professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School. The goal of that mission, dubbed Neurolab, is to increase the understanding of the mechanisms responsible for neurological and behavioral changes in space.
Lu, a Merrill Presidential Scholar at Cornell, was selected as an astronaut in December 1994. He will carry with him into space a Cornell wrestling singlet, or sleeveless wrestling uniform. Coaching wrestling is one of his hobbies.
A research physicist, he has been working in the fields of solar physics and astrophysics. He was a visiting scientist at the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colo., from 1989 to 1992, holding a joint appointment with the Laboratory for Astrophysics at the University of Colorado.
From 1992 to 1995, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu. Lu graduated from R.L. Thomas High School in Webster, N.Y., in 1980, then attended Cornell. He earned a doctorate in applied physics from Stanford University in 1989.
Lu developed a number of new theoretical advances that have provided, for the first time, a basic understanding of the underlying physics of solar flares, according to NASA. He has published on a wide range of topics, including solar flares, cosmology, solar oscillations, statistical mechanics and plasma physics. He also is a commercial pilot who enjoys aerobatic flying.
The mission's main goal is to pick up NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger after five months of residence on Mir and drop off astronaut Mike Foale, who will live and work on the Russian outpost for four-and-a-half months. Also, after docking with Mir, the crew will conduct five days of joint operations.
Atlantis again will be carrying the Spacelab module in its payload bay. The double module configuration will house experiments to be performed by Lu and other mission specialists, along with logistics equipment and supplies to be transferred to Mir.