Astronaut who grew up in metro Atlanta heading to U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — From the Peach State to outer space, an astronaut who grew up right here in Georgia is now getting one of NASA’s biggest honors.

Major Roy D. Bridges grew up on a farm in Pendergrass, Georgia going to school that didn’t have indoor plumbing. He eventually graduated from Gainesville High School.

Now, NASA is inducting Bridges into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.

“Pretty big surprise to me,” he said. “I thought this had passed me by many years ago.”

His calm demeanor may hide big emotions, but his resume speaks loudly. He piloted 126 orbits in space. His flying dream all started while in the car with his parents and hearing about the Russians launching a satellite.

“Kind of the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. because I thought, ‘Wow, this is an exciting time. I’d like to be part of this new space frontier.’”

Bridges found his way into the U.S. Air Force Academy in June 1961 and Purdue University to get his masters. After he completed flight training, he flew combat missions in Vietnam.

Then, NASA came calling as he launched in 1985 with his family watching.

“Yeah, it was a great flight. We had a crew of seven aboard the 19th shuttle mission on the Challenger and it was called the STS-51F.

Bridges went on to command a flight test wing, a space launch center and the Air Force flight test center. He became a command astronaut pilot with almost 4,500 flight hours.

He even had a hand in helping land some of the Mars Rovers.

“Those are pretty exciting missions.”

Now fully retired, he has a pen on paper writing his second book and watching space exploration unfold.

“The thing that excites me is developing the understanding the possibilities of life somewhere else,” Bridges said.





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