Astronaut Biography: George D. Zamka

Astronaut Biography: George D. Zamka
STS-120 pilot George D. Zamka poses for his preflight photo. (Image credit: NASA.)

NAME:George D. Zamka
Colonel, USMC
NASA Astronaut

PERSONALDATA: Born in1962 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Raised in New York City;Irvington, New York; Medellin, Colombia and Rochester Hills, Michigan. Married to the former Elisa P.Walker of Mississippi. They have two children. He enjoysweight lifting, running, bicycling, scuba and boating. His mother, Sofia Zamkaand brother Conrad P. Zamka both live in Florida. His father, Conrad Zamka resides in Indiana.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Rochester Adams High School, Rochester Hills Michigan, in 1980; received a Bachelor of Science degree inMathematics from the United States Naval Academy in 1984; received a Masters of Science degree inEngineering Management from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1997.

ORGANIZATIONS: United States Naval Academy Alumni Association, Marine Corps Association,and Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

SPECIALHONORS: NavyStrike Air Medal (6), Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V, and various othermilitary service and campaign awards. Distinguished Graduate, United States Naval Academy. Commodore?s list and Academic AchievementAward, Training Air Wing Five. Recipient of four NASA Superior AccomplishmentAwards and a GEM Award.

EXPERIENCE: Zamka was commissioned as a SecondLieutenant in the United States Marine Corps after graduating from the United States Naval Academy in May 1984. After basic flighttraining, he was trained as an A-6E pilot at Whidbey Island, Washington in 1987-88. He then flew withMarine All Weather Attack Squadron VMA(AW)-242 in El Toro, California. He served in administration and flight safety roles andalso as Squadron Weapons and Tactics Instructor. In 1990, he trained to be anF/A-18 pilot and was assigned to Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron VMFA(AW)-121,also in El Toro. He flew the F/A-18D Night AttackHornet during overseas deployments to Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Southwest Asia. Zamka flew 66combat missions over occupied Kuwait and Iraq during Desert Storm. In 1993 he served with FirstBattalion, Fifth Marines in Camp Pendleton, California and the 31st MarineExpeditionary Unit in the Western Pacific. He was selected to attend the UnitedStates Air Force Test Pilot School class 94A and graduated in December 1994. Zamkawas then assigned as an F/A-18 test pilot/project officer and the F/A-18Operations Officer for the Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron (NSATS). Whileassigned to NSATS, Zamka flew a wide variety of tests in the F/A-18 Hornet toinclude high angle of attack, loads, flutter, crew equipment, and weapon systemprograms. Zamka returned to VMFA(AW)-121 in 1998 and was serving as theAircraft Maintenance Officer, deployed to Iwakuni, Japan, when selected for the astronautprogram.

He has over4000 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft.

NASAEXPERIENCE:Selected as a pilot by NASA in June 1998, he reported for astronaut candidatetraining in August 1998. He has served in various technical and leadershiproles in the astronaut office, to include space rendezvous and proximityoperations, landing and rollout instructor, and lead for shuttle systems withinthe Shuttle Operations Branch. Zamka served as lead for the shuttle trainingand procedures division and as supervisor for the astronaut candidate class of2004. He is assigned to serve as pilot on STS-120, the mission that willdeliver the Node 2 connecting module to the International Space Station.


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