NASA selects astronauts from a diverse pool of applicants with a wide variety of backgrounds from scientists to pilots. From the thousands of applications received, only a few are chosen to be a member of the elite NASA Astronaut Corps. Each day at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visitors get the rare opportunity to meet veteran NASA astronauts.
You may meet the Astronaut of the Day at any of the following opportunities. See the Daily Schedule for times when you arrive.
Astronaut Jon McBride’s goal was to go to space even as a young boy. He followed in the path of his heroes, like Neil Armstrong, and became a Naval Aviator. McBride received flight training in Pensacola, Florida where he got his wings in 1966. He attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School earning an Aeronautical Engineering degree in 1971. In 1978, he was selected by NASA in the first class of space shuttle astronauts. Overall, he has logged more than 8,800 hours of flight time.
During his time with the Navy, McBride flew various military and civilian aircraft. He spent time in Southeast Asia where he flew 64 combat missions during the Vietnam conflict. Beginning his career with NASA, he served as Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for Mission Control and was a lead chase pilot for the first flight of Columbia.
On October 5, 1984, McBride launched with STS 41-G Challenger for an eight-day mission. He was a member of the first crew of seven. While in orbit, they deployed the Earth Radiatioån Budget Satellite and performed scientific observations with the OSTA-3 pallet and Large Format Camera. During their mission, McBride also filmed about half of the IMAX movie “The Dream Is Alive” which aired at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for over 25 years.
McBride served as NASA’s Assistant Administrator for Congressional Relations (1987-1989). He was scheduled to command the crew of STS-35 Columbia, but the flight delayed in the wake of the Challenger disaster. McBride retired from NASA and the NAVY in May 1989 and pursued a career in business. Today, he works with Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex as a member of the Astronaut Encounter team. In addition to being a liaison between the visiting astronauts and the Visitor Complex, he also gives motivational lectures and presentations.