CAPTAIN KATHRYN P. HIRE
Kathryn Patricia “Kay” Hire is a former NASA astronaut and a Captain in the US Navy Reserve who has flown on two Space Shuttle missions
She was born in Mobile, Alabama on August 26, 1959 and graduated from Murphy High School, Mobile, Alabama in 1977. She received her Bachelor of Science, U.S. Naval Academy, 1981. Master of Science, Florida Institute of Technology, 1991.
Commissioned as a Naval Officer in 1981, Hire earned her Naval Flight Officer Wings in 1982. She flew worldwide oceanographic research missions to 25 countries aboard specially configured P-3 Orion aircraft with Oceanographic Development Squadron Eight (VXN-8). She later taught airborne navigation for three years to over 600 student naval flight officers.
In 1989, Hire left the active duty Navy and began parallel but separate civilian and military careers as a Space Shuttle Engineer and as a Navy Reserve Officer. She accepting a Reserve commission and joining the Naval Reserve at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Her initial tours of duty included Patrol Squadron Augment Unit VP-0545 and Anti-Submarine Warfare Operations Center 0574 and 0374.
Following the repeal of the Title 10 U.S.C. combat aircraft restriction for female military aviators in 1993, Captain Hire, became the first female in the U. S. military to be assigned to a combat aircrew, when she reported to Patrol Squadron Sixty-Two (VP-62). There she was a Navigator/Communicator flying the P-3C Update III Orion maritime patrol aircraft. VP-62 was also based at NAS Jacksonville and Hire routinely deployed for flight operations throughout the North Atlantic, Europe, and the Caribbean.
Hire continued her Navy Reserve duty with various units based in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. She was recalled to active naval duty supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of U.S. Naval Central Command staff. Hire later resumed part-time reserve status and served as Commanding Officer of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Unit 1010.
NASA: Hire started at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 1989 as an engineer for Lockheed Space Operations Company. She worked as a Space Shuttle Orbiter Mechanical Systems Engineer, then Test Project Engineer, and eventually Supervisor of Space Shuttle Orbiter Mechanical Systems and Launch Pad Access Swing Arms.
During her six years at KSC, she processed Space Shuttles from landing through ground preparations and launch countdowns for over 40 missions. Hire reported to the Johnson Space Center for Astronaut training in March 1995. She has worked in mission control as a spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM), and served as the Astronaut Office Lead for Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), Shuttle Payloads, and Flight Crew Equipment. She currently serves on the Astronaut Support Personnel (ASP) team, traveling to Florida in support of crew launch and landing operations conducted at the Kennedy Space Center. Hire flew on Space Shuttle missions STS-90 (1998) and STS-130 (2010). She has logged over 711 hours in space.
SPACE FLIGHT: STS-90 Neurolab (April 17 – May 3, 1998). Hire flew as Mission Specialist 2, the flight engineer during the 16-day Spacelab flight. The seven-member crew aboard Space Shuttle Columbia served as both experiment subjects and operators for 26 life science experiments focused on the effects of microgravity on the brain and central nervous system. The STS-90 crew orbited the Earth 256 times, and covered 6.3 million miles.
STS-130 (February 08–21, 2010). Space Shuttle Endeavour launched and landed at night on the thirty-second mission to assemble the International Space Station.
The STS-130 crew delivered and outfitted Node 3, also known as Tranquility, and the Cupola, a seven-windowed portal for the space station. As Mission Specialist 1, Hire operated the robotic arms, led the transfer of 4500 pounds of cargo, and helped install water recycling, air cleaning and cooling, and crew exercise equipment in Node 3 and Cupola. During the 2-week mission, Endeavour and crew travelled over 5.7 million miles and completed 217 orbits of the earth.
She is currently the Commanding Officer of the Office of Naval Research/ Naval Research Lab (ONR/NRL) Unit 113, supporting projects at the Naval Post Graduate School, Monterey, California.
She enjoys sailing, fishing, scuba diving, and snow skiing.
She considers Merritt Island, Florida a hometown
REAR ADMIRAL WENDI CARPENTER
Rear Adm. (ret) Wendi B. Carpenter and was the first woman aviator to be promoted to the rank of Admiral in the US Navy.
She was born in 1956, the youngest of three children. She is a military brat, her father was and enlisted Airmen who was a veteran of WWII, Korea and Vietnam. In WWII, he was bottom turret gunner on a B17 and flew over Normandy. She remembers how traumatic it was for her when her father was in Vietnam. Her father had a huge impact on her life and was a clear influence in her choice to join the military.
She grew up all over the US, moving 54 times over the course of her life. She lived in 13 states and went to 25 different school before graduating high school. None of this was from bad behavior, she says she was never kicked out of school or anything like that. This is an amazing example of the very transient life of the military. Always moving, never getting a chance to settle and plant roots. She grew up on Air force bases and remembers fishing golf balls out of the water and selling them for extra money as a child. Wendi graduated from the University of Georgia in 1976 with a bachelor of science degree in psychology. After graduation she taught a year of Kindergarten.
Wendi joined the Navy graduated Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS) in 1978. (Pensacola, FL.) If you have seen the movie an officer and a gentleman, That’s the same school.
Her dad gave her a very amazing heart to heart before she left for AOCS. She said that he told her they, (her mother and father) would always be proud of her, no matter what. He did have a though. He said that if he ever hears of her mistreating or thinking she was better than someone because they were enlisted, he would beat her ass.
She was in the second class that allowed women to attend and be commissioned through the AOCS. And yes, here we have another amazing woman who graduated at the top of her class. Graduating in this number one spot earns you the Navy’s “Wings of Gold”. Wendi became the 31st woman naval aviator.
“Those kind of individuals who would tell you they were gonna set out to get you kicked out of flight school or Aviation Officer Candidate School, which is really unfortunate because it reflects such a narrow mindset in the abilities of other people,” Wendi Carpenter
This left a serious impression on her. She made sure she took care of her troops and was always well liked by her enlisted crew. A huge believer in leadership being mentorship and team work. Still keeps in contact with many people she worked with during her career.
Admiral Carpenter was assigned as the Navy’s first Selectively Retained Graduate Instructor Pilot (SERGRAD). The SERGRAD is a rare program that only the top graduates would even be considered under. It’s a big deal. Current graduates chosen for this consider it a prestigious honor. Rear Admiral Carpenter was an instructor on the T-44 aircraft at VT-31, NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. The T-44 is the Navy’s advanced training aircraft for multi-engine turbo-prop pilot training. It’s known as the T4-4 Pegasus trainer. During her time there, she had a flawless safety record. Over 800 hours of flight instruction without incident.
Being one of the first Navy pilots she brought change with her and pioneered change throughout the Navy every where she went.
Admiral Carpenter served as mission commander, aircraft commander and instructor pilot in the EC-130 Hercules aircraft, in 1981. Wendi says that in her career she was often the only woman in the room, and due to the combat exclusion rule, she was not allowed to fly in combat. The C-130s she flew were equipped to be able to communicate with submarines.
Rear Admiral Carpenter deployed throughout the Pacific, western United States, and Alaska and supported the nation’s strategic nuclear triad. The nuclear triad is the countries land air and sea nuclear capabilities which prevent an enemy from being able to take out the entire capability.
In 1985, she accepted a Reserve component commission and left active duty after her tour in Washington DC as an aviation assignments officer.
In 2005 she was promoted to the Flag rank. Rear Admiral lower half is a one star and rear admiral is a two star. It then goes Vice Admiral, Admiral, and then finally Fleet Admiral.
She was given a piece of advice when she was promoted that suck with her. She was told to use her starts to remove barriers for other people doing great things. She says that she always tried to do just that.
During Wendi’s time in the Naval Reserves, she was recalled to active duty multiple times. One of which was following the Sept. 11 and another for humanitarian relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Her final assignment for the Navy was during the last recall to active duty in June 2008. During this time, she assumed command of the Navy Warfare Development Command. This Command worked with joint and coalition forces to improve the Navy’s capabilities. They worked on or developed the unmanned systems from seabed to space and launching innovative new information systems and cyber warfare concepts
Admiral Carpenter has pretty much done it all. She has held five commands at all the different levels. For the Navy that is the commander, captain and flag level. She has also held these positions in the fields of training, aviation, and logistics, in not only fleet commands but, joint and coalition operations as well. She had several key assignments United States Second Fleet as the Deputy Commander.
During her career she had over 3,500 military flight hours.
Admiral Carpenter retired from the Navy in August of 2011.
She went on to become the first woman president of the State of New York Maritime College.
Admiral Carpenter has kept busy sense her retirement from the Navy. The list of things she has been a part of is an entire podcast in itself. She mentioned in 2019 that she was less busy when she had one job because now, she has six or seven.
Wendi has a Master’s degree in International Relations, a Bachelor’s in Psychology and is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval War College.
She has also completed Executive Business courses in strategic planning, innovation, environmental planning, and organizational transformation at Babson College, The NATO School in Germany, and University of North Carolina.
Admiral Carpenter lives in Atlanta, GA and still enjoys speaking engagements on leadership and mentoring youth.