Biography of Joseph P. Kerwin

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American NASA Astronaut Joseph P. Kerwin Biography

Joseph Peter Kerwin, M.D. ( born February 19, 1932 ) is an American physician and former NASA astronaut. Kerwin was the first physician to be selected for astronaut training.

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, he graduated from Fenwick High School, a private school in Oak Park, in 1949.

Joseph P. Kerwin received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1953; a Doctor of Medicine degree from Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois, in 1957; completed internship at the District of Columbia General Hospital in Washington, D.C.; and attended the United States Navy School of Aviation Medicine at Pensacola, Florida, being designated a naval flight surgeon in December 1958.

Military Career

Kerwin was a captain ( now retired ) in the Navy Medical Corps, joining in July 1958. He earned his wings at Beeville, Texas in 1962. He has logged 4,500 hours flying time.

NASA Career

Kerwin was selected as a scientist-astronaut by NASA in June 1965. He was one of the capsule communicators ( CAPCOMs ) on Apollo 13 ( in 1970 ). Kerwin served as science-pilot for the Skylab 2 ( SL-2 ) mission which launched on May 25 and terminated on June 22, 1973.
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With him for the initial activation and 28-day flight qualification operations of the Skylab orbital workshop were Charles Conrad, Jr., ( spacecraft commander ) and Paul J. Weitz ( pilot ).

Kerwin was subsequently in charge of the on-orbit branch of the Astronaut Office, where he coordinated astronaut activity involving rendezvous, satellite deployment and retrieval, and other Shuttle payload operations. From 1982–83, Kerwin served as NASA’s senior science representative in Australia.

In this capacity, he served as liaison between NASA’s Office of Space Tracking and Data Systems and Australia’s Department of Science and Technology. From 1984–87, he served as Director, Space and Life Sciences, Johnson Space Center.

Kerwin was responsible for direction and coordination of medical support to operational manned spacecraft programs, including health care and maintenance of the astronauts and their families; for direction of life services, supporting research and light experiment project; and for managing JSC earth sciences and scientific efforts in lunar and planetary research.

Post-NASA Career

Kerwin retired from the Navy, left NASA, and joined Lockheed in 1987. At Lockheed, he managed the Extravehicular Systems Project, providing hardware for Space Station Freedom, from 1988 to 1990; with other Lockheed employees he invented the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue ( SAFER ), recently tested for use by space walking astronauts on the International Space Station ( ISS ).

Joseph P. Kerwin then served on the Assured Crew Return Vehicle team, and served as Study Manager on the Human Transportation Study, a NASA review of future space transportation architectures.

In 1994–95 he led the Houston liaison group for Lockheed Martin’s FGB contract, the procurement of the Russian “space tug” which has become the first element of the ISS. He served on the NASA Advisory Council from 1990 to 1993.

Joseph P. Kerwin joined Systems Research Laboratories ( SRL ) in June 1996, to serve as Program Manager of the SRL team which bid to win the Medical Support and Integration Contract at the Johnson Space Center. The incumbent, KRUG Life Sciences, was selected.

Then, to his surprise, KRUG recruited him to replace its retiring president, T. Wayne Holt. He joined KRUG on April 1, 1997. On March 16, 1998, KRUG Life Sciences became the Life Sciences Special Business Unit of Wyle Laboratories of El Segundo, California.
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In addition to his duties at Wyle, Kerwin serves on the Board of Directors of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) as an industry representative. He retired from Wyle in the summer of 2004.

Joseph P. Kerwin Personal Life

Kerwin is married to the former Shirley Ann Good of Danville, Pennsylvania. They have three daughters and five grandchildren. His hobbies are reading and classical music. He is a fellow of the Aerospace Medical Association and a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Joseph P. Kerwin Books

Kerwin is the author, along with fellow astronauts Owen Garriott and Alan Bean, of “Homesteading Space,” a history of the Skylab program published in 2008.

Kerwin in the Movies

Kerwin is portrayed by Jack Hogan in the 1974 TV movie Houston, We’ve Got a Problem.

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