PERSONAL DATA: Born November 8, 1948 in Fairmont, Minnesota. Grew up in Sherburn, Minnesota and Savanna, Illinois. Considers his hometown to be Clinton, Iowa, where his mother, Mrs. Alice Gardner, resides. Now lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Divorced. Two children. An avid sports enthusiast, he enjoys snow skiing, golfing, tennis, and jogging. Other interests include woodworking and photography.
EDUCATION: Graduated as Valedictorian of his class from Savanna Community High School, Savanna, Illinois, in 1966. Received bachelor of science degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) in 1970.
ORGANIZATIONS: Member, Phi Eta Sigma, Sigma Tau, and Tau Beta Pi. Fellow, American Astronautical Society.
SPECIAL HONORS: Defense Superior Service Medal (1984, 1989, 1990); Distinguished Flying Cross (1989); Meritorious Unit Commendation (1976); Humanitarian Service Medal (1979); Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (1984). Other honors include the NASA Space Flight Medal (1983 and 1984); Master Space Badge (1989); Lloyd's of London Meritorious Service Medal (1984).
EXPERIENCE: Upon graduation from the University of Illinois in 1970, Gardner entered into active duty with the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the Aviation Officer Candidate School at Pensacola, Florida. He was commissioned an Ensign and was selected as the most promising naval officer from his class. In October 1970 he began Basic Naval Flight Officer training with the VT-10 squadron at Pensacola, graduating with the highest academic average ever achieved in the history of the squadron. He proceeded to the Naval Technical Training Center at Glynco, Georgia, for Advanced Flight Officer training and was selected a Distinguished Naval Graduate and awarded his Naval Flight Officer wings on May 5, 1971. At the Naval Air Test Center Patuxent River, Maryland, from May 1971 to July 1973, he was assigned to the Weapons Systems Test Division and involved in initial F-14 TOMCAT developmental test and evaluation as Project Officer for Inertial Navigation and Avionics Systems. Gardner's next assignment was with the first operational F-14 squadron (VF-1) at NAS Miramar, San Diego, California, from where he flew the TOMCAT and participated in two Western Pacific and Indian Ocean cruises while deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS ENTERPRISE. From December 1976 until July 1978, he was assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 4(VX-4) at NAS Pt. Mugu, California, involved in the operational test and evaluation of Navy fighter aircraft.
NASA EXPERIENCE: Gardner was selected as an Astronaut Candidate by NASA in January 1978, reporting to the Johnson Space Center in July 1978. In August 1979 he completed a 1-year training and evaluation period, making him eligible for assignment as a Mission Specialist Astronaut. He subsequently served as the Astronaut Project Manager for the flight software in the Shuttle onboard computers leading up to the first flight in April 1981. He then served as a Support Crew Astronaut for the fourth flight (STS-4). He flew as a mission specialist on STS-8 (August 30 to September 5, 1983) and STS-51A (November 8-16, 1984). Gardner logged a total of 337 hours in space and 225 orbits of the Earth on these two flights. He has logged more than 2300 hours flying time in over 20 different types of aircraft and spacecraft. Prior to the Challenger accident, Gardner was chosen to be a member of the first Shuttle mission to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, into a polar orbit. That flight and the Vandenberg launch capability itself were canceled after the accident.
In October 1986, following 8-1/2 years with NASA, Gardner returned to his Navy duties and was assigned to the U.S. Space Command, Colorado Springs, Colorado. He served over two years as the Deputy Chief, Space Control Operations Division in Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base and, after promotion to the rank of Captain in June 1989, became the command's Deputy Director for Space Control at Peterson Air Force Base. His space control responsibilities included the surveillance and tracking of all man-made objects in Earth orbit and the protection of U.S. and friendly space systems. Gardner retired from the U.S. Navy in October 1990 and accepted a position with TRW Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is a program manager in the Colorado Springs Engineering Operations of TRW's Space and Defense Sector. In that capacity, he is involved in the development of both civilian space and military space and defense high technology programs.
SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-8 launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on August 30, 1983. The crew aboard Space Shuttle Challenger included Richard Truly (Spacecraft Commander), Daniel Brandenstein (Pilot), and fellow Mission Specialists Guion Bluford and William Thornton. This was the third flight of the Orbiter Challenger and the first night launch and landing mission of the Shuttle program. During the flight, the crew of STS-8 deployed the Indian National Satellite (INSAT-1B), operated and tested the Canadian-build Remote Manipulator System (RMS) robot arm, and performed numerous earth resources and space science experiments. STS-8 completed 98 Earth orbits in 145 hours before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California on September 5, 1983.
STS-51A, the fourteenth flight of the Shuttle program, launched on November 8, 1984 (his birthday). The crew aboard Space Shuttle Discovery included Frederick Hauck (Spacecraft Commander), David Walker (Pilot), and fellow Mission Specialists Joseph Allen and Anna Fisher. This was the second flight of Discovery. During this mission the crew deployed two satellites, Canada's ANIK D-2 (TELESAT-H) and the Hughes' LEASAT-1 (SYNCOM IV-1), now in service with the U.S. Navy. In a dramatic salvage effort, they also rendezvoused with and returned from space two satellites previously launched into improper orbits, the Indonesian PALAPA B-2 and the Western Union WESTAR VI communication satellites. Gardner and Allen completed two space walks totaling 12 hours and flew the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) backpack during the salvage operation. STS-51A completed 127 orbits of the Earth before landing at the Kennedy Space Center on November 16, 1984.