HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Former NASA Langley Research Center Director Roy D. Bridges Jr. will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame this spring.
The list of accomplishments that accompany Bridges is a long one, so it’s only fitting he belongs in the Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center.
A retired Major General from the U.S. Air Force, Bridges has flown nearly ten different aircraft in his career, to include more than 200 missions in Vietnam. From fighter jets to the space shuttle, Bridges piloted the Challenger in 1985, orbiting Earth for eight days.
He then went on to become Center Director at the Kennedy Space Center before making his way up to NASA Langley, where he directed the aeronautical and space research programs in the early 2000s.
Despite all of this, the induction into the Hall of Fame actually came as a surprise to Bridges, almost like that first feeling of entering outer space.
“There are countries that you’re flying over where you know people are having a tough time, and here I am floating up in space, doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” Bridges said. “So it almost makes you feel like, gosh, what a selfish critter you are.”
With nearly 4,500 hours in the cockpit, none compare to piloting the Challenger shuttle. It was the only successful abort-to-orbit shuttle mission. After losing an engine, the crew aborted to a new orbit path around the Earth – a fast decision in the moment that resembles Bridges’ attitude about a lot of things.
The Hall of Fame induction is scheduled for May 6 at the Kennedy Space Center, where Bridges will also accompany Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), former NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy combat pilot.
“If you have a dream, go for it,” Bridges said. “Yes there will be some missed opportunities or some trouble along the way, maybe you have to recalculate how you get to your dream. But my bottom line is, go for it.”