Astronaut Susan Helms (Lieutenant General, USAF, Ret.) is a retired Astronaut, Flight Test Engineer and military officer.
After receiving her B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the US Air Force Academy (’80), Helms served in a number of technical assignments, including as an exchange officer with the Canadian Forces at CFB Cold Lake, Alberta. She also received her M.S in Aero/Astro from Stanford University (’85) and graduated from the USAF Test Pilot School as a Flight Test Engineer (‘88A) Prior to her selection for NASA, Helms had flown in more than 30 US and Canadian aircraft. While at NASA (1990-2002), Helms flew on 5 space missions, including a 5+ month stay on the International Space Station in 2001.
Helms’s first flight was STS-54, aboard Endeavour, a 6-day mission that deployed a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite and utilized an X-ray spectrometer in the payload bay to gather information that allowed investigators to further understand the origins of the Milky Way Galaxy.
On STS-64, a 12-day mission aboard Discovery, Helms served as the primary operator of the Robotics Manipulator System (RMS – aka the ‘robotic arm’) and served as the Flight Engineer (MS-2) for orbiter operations. Among other mission tasks, Helms released and recaptured 2 days later the Shuttle Pointed Autonomous Research Tool for Astronomy-201 (SPARTAN-201) free flyer, using the RMS.