Robert A. Parker

Robert Allan Ridley Parker (born December 14, 1936) is an American physicist and astronomer, former Director of the NASA Management Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and a retired NASA astronaut. He was a Mission Specialist on two Space Shuttle missions, STS-9 and STS-35.

Robert A. Parker
Born (1936-12-14) December 14, 1936 (age 83)
Other namesRobert Allan Ridley Parker
Alma materAmherst College, B.A. 1958
Caltech, Ph.D. 1962
OccupationPhysicist, astronomer
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Time in space
19d 06h 52m
Selection1967 NASA Group 6
MissionsSTS-9, STS-35
Mission insignia
Sts-9-patch.png Sts-35-patch.svg
RetirementAugust 31, 2005

He has logged over 3,500 hours flying time in jet aircraft and 463 hours in space.[1]


Early lifeEdit

Parker was born December 14, 1936, in New York City, but grew up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He attended primary and secondary schools in Shrewsbury. He received a B.A. in astronomy and physics from Amherst College in 1958 and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology in 1962. Prior to his selection for astronaut training, Parker was an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[1]

NASA careerEdit

Parker points instruments on ASTRO-1 on Columbia's aft flight deck during STS-35

Parker was selected as a scientist-astronaut by NASA in August 1967.[2] He was a member of the Astronaut Support Crews for the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, and was the person to whom the final words spoken by a man standing on the surface of the moon (Gene Cernan) were addressed. Later, he served as program scientist for the Skylab Program Director's Office during the three manned Skylab flights.[1]

From March 1988 to March 1989, Parker was stationed at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. where he served as Director of the Space Flight/Space Station Integration Office.[1]

A veteran of two Spacelab missions, Parker was a Mission Specialist on STS-9/Spacelab-1 (28 November–8 December 1983) and on STS-35 (2–10 December 1990); which featured the ASTRO-1 ultraviolet astronomy laboratory.[3][4]

Post-NASA careerEdit

Parker was director of the Division of Policy and Plans for the Office of Space Flight at NASA Headquarters from January 1991 to December 1991. From January 1992 to November 1993, he was director of the Spacelab and Operations Program. From December 1993 to August 1997 he was manager of the Space Operations Utilization Program. In August 1997, Parker was named director of the NASA Management Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Parker retired from NASA on August 31, 2005.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Parker married the former Judy Woodruff of San Marino, California. They have five children and nine grandchildren. Parker resides with his wife in La Cañada Flintridge, California.

Honors and membershipsEdit

Parker is a member of the American Astronomical Society and of the International Astronomical Union. He was awarded the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (1973) and the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (1974).[1]


In the 1998 miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, Parker was portrayed by Chris Ellis.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Robert Parker NASA Biography". NASA. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  2. ^ "New Citizens to be Astros". Muncie Evening Press. Muncie, Indiana. UPI. August 3, 1967. p. 19 – via
  3. ^ "STS-9". NASA. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  4. ^ "STS-35". NASA. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  5. ^ "From the Earth to the Moon: Full Cast and Crew". IMDB. Retrieved January 4, 2018.