News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 15, 2008

Astronaut with ties to Valley will head to space next year

TERRE HAUTE — When the U.S. space shuttle launches early next year, a little bit of Terre Haute will be on board.

Dave Wolf, 51, a former flight surgeon at the Indiana Air National Guard in Terre Haute, has been selected to serve on the shuttle mission, which is set to visit the International Space Station in March 2009.

“It’s got to be a pretty interesting mission to send him,” said retired Lt. Col. John Egan, an old friend of Wolf’s who lives in Riley and still keeps in regular contact with his astronaut friend. “This is not just your normal kid.”

Wolf, now serving as director of spacewalks for NASA in Houston, called Egan early Thursday morning to let him know of the upcoming mission.

Shuttle flights are nothing new to Wolf. The Indianapolis native and 1978 Purdue graduate has been on three.

Egan, who flew jets for the Air Force and Air National Guard for more than 30 years, met Wolf in 1983 when Wolf, then recently graduated from Indiana University with a medical degree, walked into his office and said he wanted to be a flight surgeon for the Guard.

The two men have been friends ever since.

In addition to three shuttle flights, Wolf has served on the International Space Station, spent 119 days on board Russia’s Mir space station and taken numerous space walks.

Wolf also has conducted important medical research in space, holds several patents and was named NASA Inventor of the Year in 1992.

In an e-mail to his former colleagues in the 101st Fighter Wing in Terre Haute, Wolf said his upcoming shuttle mission will include several spacewalks. He also said the March 2009 launch date may be postponed as the liftoff approaches.

“So, one more hurrah,” Wolf concluded in the e-mail to his friends in the 101st. “It is important that you know that without all of you it would be empty (and it would never have happened), so let’s enjoy.”

Egan, who introduced Wolf to several key people at NASA shortly before the younger man was chosen for the astronaut program in 1990, has been a guest at all of Wolf’s shuttle launches and plans to attend the 2009 launch as well. “I look at him like a brother,” Egan said. “He’s a class act.”

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.

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