HOUSTON, May 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA astronaut Rick "CJ" Sturckow has left the agency and accepted a position with Virgin Galactic as pilot on their Commercial Flight Team. A veteran of four space shuttle flights, Sturckow served first as pilot on STS-88 in 1998 and STS-105 in 2001 and later as commander on STS-117 in 2007 and STS-128 in 2009.
Before joining NASA, Sturckow served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a pilot and flew combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. He joined the astronaut corps in 1995. During his 18-year tenure at NASA, Sturckow served in multiple technical and leadership roles supporting Johnson Space Center's Astronaut Office including chief of the Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) Branch and chief of the International Space Station Branch.
"CJ will certainly be missed by the Astronaut Office," said Bob Behnken, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "He was a role model for leadership, and his expertise as an aviator and shuttle commander led to the success of the shuttle and station missions. His experience in spaceflight and ground operations will be difficult to replace within our organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to the future of spaceflight as he moves on to the next phase of his career."
Sturckow holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from California Polytechnic State University and a Master of Science in mechanical engineering.
Sturckow retired from the Marine Corps as a colonel, in September, 2009, after 25 years of active duty service. He has logged more than 6,500 flight hours in more than 60 different aircraft. He ends his NASA career having logged more than 1,200 hours in space.
For Sturckow's complete biography, visit: go.nasa.gov/QR2lJL