Captain Jerry Linenger is a retired United States Navy flight surgeon and NASA astronaut.
During what has been reported to be one of the most dangerous and dramatic missions in space history, Jerry spent nearly five months aboard the Russian space station Mir. He faced numerous life-threatening events, including repeated failure of critical life-support systems, a near-collision between the space station and a massive re-supply spacecraft, and multiple computer failures that sent the space station tumbling uncontrollably through space.
As if these problems were not enough, he narrowly survived a raging, smoke-billowing fire that was later described as the most severe fire ever aboard an orbiting spacecraft.
In spite of these challenges, Captain Linenger and his two Russian crewmates accomplished all mission goals; shuttle docking, space walking, a Soyuz flyaround, and all 120 of the United States science experiments. In completing the mission, he logged 50 million miles, the equivalent distance of over 110 roundtrips to the moon, traveling at an average speed of 18,000 miles per hour.
He was the first American ever to undock from a space station in a Russian Soyuz capsule and the first American to do a space walk in a Russian spacesuit. At mission completion, Captain Linenger held the endurance record for the longest time in space for an American man.
In 2008 Linenger became the recipient of the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. The medal is given to any person in the Federal service who, by distinguished service, ability, or courage, has personally made a contribution representing substantial progress to the NASA mission.
It is the highest honour NASA confers. In his free time, Linenger enjoys competitive triathlons, ocean swim racing, scuba diving, skiing, and kayaking. He is author of the books Off the Planet, which chronicles his time in space; and Letters from Mir: An Astronaut’s Letters to His Son.
He presently is a founding member of the advisory council for Circle of Blue, a global freshwater initiative, as well as a space analyst for NBC News. Jerry now lives back on the planet in northern Michigan with his wife and four children.