by Lisa M.A. Winters, contributing writer
Navy veteran Dale Gardner, a Mission Specialist on Space Shuttle missions STS-8 and STS-51A, died of a brain aneurysm February 19, 2014 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During his service in the Navy (including aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and NASA, he was awarded the 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).
Gardner logged a total of 337 hours in space and 225 orbits of the Earth on his two shuttle flights, and logged more than 2300 hours flying time in over 20 different types of aircraft and spacecraft. Gardner was one of only a handful of astronauts to ever use a jet pack, or ‘manned maneuver unit, powered by nitrogen jets.
After leaving NASA, he reactivated his Naval commission and served as Deputy Chief, Space Control Operations Division in Cheyenne Mountain; then as Deputy Director for Space Control at Peterson Air Force Base. Gardner retired from the U.S. Navy in October 1990 and accepted a position with TRW Inc. in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was a program manager in the Colorado Springs Engineering Operations of TRW’s Space and Defense Sector. In that capacity, he was involved in the development of both civilian and military space and defense high technology programs. He later became Manager of Northrup Grumman’s Colorado Springs operations. After 13 years, he joined the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado as the Associate Director for Renewable Fuels Science & Technology. He retired from that position in January 2013.
Captain Gardner’s funeral service was at 11 a.m. February 25th at First Presbyterian Church, 210 E. Bijou St., in Colorado Springs. Burial will be at Evergreen Cemetery.