NASA Astronauts

James F. Buchli

Class of 1967
Colonel, USMC, Ret.
NASA Astronaut (Former)


James F. Buchli-NASA Photo

STS-48 Mission Specialist (MS) James F. Buchli displays the assembled Middeck Zero ("0") Gravity Dynamics Experiment 01 (MODE-01) structural test article (STA) on the middeck of the Earth-orbiting Discovery, Orbiter Vehicle (OV) 103. STA will investigate the nonlinear dynamics of truss structures. In its deployed configuration (seen here), MODE-01 STA is 64 by 8 by 8 inches. It contains nonlinear components, including a prototype of the space station alpha joint (visible next to Buchli's hand). Behind Buchli are the starboard wall-mounted sleep restraints.

PERSONAL DATA: Born June 20, 1945, in New Rockford, North Dakota, but also considers Fargo, North Dakota, as his hometown. Married to the former Jean Oliver of Pensacola, Florida. Two grown children. Recreational interests include skiing, scuba diving, hunting, fishing, and racquetball. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Buchli, reside in Fargo, North Dakota. Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. James O. Oliver, reside in Pensacola, Florida.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Fargo Central High School, Fargo, North Dakota, in 1963; received a bachelor of science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy in 1967 and a master of science degree in Aeronautical Engineering Systems from the University of West Florida in 1975.

ORGANIZATIONS: Associate member of Naval Academy Alumni, American Legion, Association of Space Explorers, and American Geophysical Union.

SPECIAL HONORS: Recipient of the Defense Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four NASA Space Flight Medals, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, a Meritorious Unit Citation, and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with the Silver Star.

EXPERIENCE: Buchli received his commission in the United States Marine Corps following graduation from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1967. He graduated from U.S. Marine Corps Basic Infantry Course and was subsequently sent to the Republic of Vietnam for a 1-year tour of duty, where he served as Platoon Commander, 9th Marine Regiment, and then as Company Commander and Executive Officer, "B" Company, 3rd Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. He returned to the United States in 1969 for naval flight officer training at Pensacola, Florida, and spent the next 2 years assigned to Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron 122, at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and Iwakuni, Japan; and in 1973, he proceeded to duty with Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron 115 at Namphong, Thailand, and Iwakuni, Japan. Upon completing this tour of duty, he again returned to the United States and participated in the Marine Advanced Degree Program at the University of West Florida. He was assigned subsequently to Marine Fighter/Attack Squadron 312 at the Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina, and in 1977, to the U.S. Test Pilot School, Patuxent River, Maryland.

He has logged over 4,200 hours flying time -- 4,000 hours in jet aircraft.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Buchli became a NASA astronaut in August 1979. He was a member of the support crew for STS-1 and STS-2, and On-Orbit CAPCOM for STS-2. A veteran of four space flights, Buchli has orbited the earth 319 times, traveling 7.74 million miles in 20 days, 10 hours, 25 minutes, 32 seconds. He served as a mission specialist on STS-51C (January 24-27, 1995), STS-61A (October 30 to November 6, 1985), STS-29 (March 13-18, 1989), and STS-48 (Sep 12-18, 1991). From March 1989 till May 1992 he also served as Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office.

On 1 September 1992 Buchli retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and the NASA Astronaut Office to accept a position as Manager, Space Station Systems Operations and Requirements with Boeing Defense and Space Group, Huntsville, Alabama. In April 1993, he was reassigned as Boeing Deputy for Payload Operations, Space Station Freedom Program. Buchli served as Operations & Utilization Manager for Space Station, Boeing Defense and Space Group, Houston, Texas.

SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS 51-C Discovery, was the first dedicated Department of Defense mission. Launched January 24, 1985, from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, STS-51C performed its DOD mission which included deployment of a modified Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) vehicle from the Space Shuttle. Landing occurred on January 27, 1985, after slightly more than three days on orbit. Mission duration was 73 hours, 33 minutes, 27 seconds.

STS-61A Challenger (October 30 to November 6, 1985) was a West German D-1 Spacelab mission, the first to carry eight crew members, the largest crew to fly in space, and the first in which payload activities were controlled from outside the United States. More than 75 scientific experiments were completed in the areas of physiological sciences, materials processing, biology, and navigation. Mission duration was 168 hours, 44 minutes, 51 seconds.

TS-29 Discovery (March 13-18, 1989) was a highly successful five day mission during which the crew deployed a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite, and performed numerous secondary experiments, including a space station "heat pipe" radiator experiment, two student experiments, a protein crystal growth experiment, and a chromosome and plant cell division experiment. In addition, the crew took over 3,000 photographs of the earth using several types of cameras, including the IMAX 70 mm movie camera. Mission duration was 119 hours, 39 minutes, 40 seconds.

STS-48 Discovery (September 12-18, 1991) was a five day mission during which the crew deployed the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) designed to provide scientists with their first complete data set on the upper atmosphere's chemistry, winds and energy inputs. The crew also conducted numerous secondary experiments ranging from growing protein crystals, to studying how fluids and structures react in weightlessness. Mission duration was 128 hours, 27 minutes; 34 seconds.


Astronaut Photos and Biographies - Courtesy of NASA
Lucky Bag Photos- Courtesy of USNA Archives

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