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Astronauts from the Navy
Richard H. Truly 
(Vice Admiral, USN, Ret.)
NASA Astronaut (Former)
Credit: NASA
Astronaut Richard H Truly, (Vice Admiral, USN, Ret.)

Richard Harrison Truly

Richard Harrison Truly (born November 12, 1937) is a retired Vice Admiral in the United States Navy, Naval Aviator, former astronaut, and was the eighth Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from 1989 to 1992. He was the first former astronaut to head the space agency.

Early Life

Born in Fayette, Mississippi, Truly attended schools in Fayette and Meridian, Mississippi, receiving a bachelor of aeronautical engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1959. Truly was ordered to flight school and was designated a Naval Aviator on October 7, 1960. His initial tour of duty was in Fighter Squadron 33 where he flew F-8 Crusaders aboard USS Intrepid and USS Enterprise) and made more than 300 carrier landings.

From 1963 to 1965, he was first a student and later an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

NASA Career


In 1965, Truly was among the first military astronauts selected to the USAF Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL) program in Los Angeles, California. He became an astronaut for NASA in August 1969, after the cancellation of the MOL project. He was a member of the astronaut support crew and capsule communicator (CAPCOM) for all three of the manned Skylab missions in 1973, and the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975. He was assigned to one of the two-man crews for the Approach and Landing Tests of the Space Shuttle Enterprise in 1977, and the STS-2 mission in 1981. Truly served as commander of STS-8 in 1983. After STS-8, Truly left NASA to become the first commander of the Naval Space Command.

Return to Flight

Three weeks after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, Truly returned to NASA to became NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Flight on February 20, 1986. His primary task was to watch over the space shuttle's return to flying status. Along with that, he was also responsible for such long term issues as whether or not the Challenger would be replaced, the role the shuttle would play in the future and the mixture of expendable spacecraft and the shuttle for upcoming missions. While it only took a few days to determine the technical reason for the accident, sorting out the root cause was more difficult. In the end, it took Truly and NASA's "return to flight" program 31 months before the space shuttle Discovery successfully flew on September 29, 1988 with STS-26. In March 1986, Truly noted in a memo that there were several actions NASA needed to accomplish before launching another shuttle. They included "Solid Rocket Motor joint redesign, Critical Items review, and Operations and Maintenance Instructions review".

Truly was named to head NASA as its eighth administrator in May 1989. He held this position until May 1992. He retired from the Navy as a vice admiral shortly before becoming NASA administrator.


fter leaving NASA, Adm. Truly became Vice President and Director of the Georgia Tech Research Institute, part of the Georgia Institute of Technology, in Atlanta, Georgia. He served in this role from 1992 - 1997. Then he served as Director of the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and as Executive Vice President of Midwest Research Institute from 1997-2005. 

In May 2007, Retired Vice Admiral Richard Truly testified before the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as a member of a military advisory board on the subject of the threats to U.S. national security posed by global climate change. Truly is married and has three children.


His decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Meritorious Service Medal. His NASA awards include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, two NASA Space Flight Medals, and two NASA Exceptional Service Medals.

In 1988, he was awarded the Society of Experimental Test Pilots James H. Doolittle Award. He also received that year the Collier Trophy for his role in assisting NASA's return to launching manned missions after the Challenger disaster. In January 1989, Truly was presented the Presidential Citizen's Medal by President Ronald Reagan.

SOURCE: Wikipedia_Richard_H._Truly


Credit: NASA
Richard H Truly, (Vice Admiral, USN, Ret.)

SPECIAL HONORS: Decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merit, Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Meritorious Service Award. His NASA awards include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, two NASA Space Flight Medals, and two NASA Exceptional Service Medals. He is also the recipient of the Air Force Association’s David C. Shilling Award (1978), Society of Experimental Test Pilot’s Ivan C. Kincheloe Award (1978), the American Astronautical Society’s Flight Achievement Award (1977), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Haley Space Flight Award (1980), the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy (1982), the Thomas D. White Space Trophy (1982), the Robert J. Collier Trophy (1982), the Harmon International Trophy (1982), the Federation Aeronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal (1984), the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award , and the Medal of Honor of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution..

SOURCE: NASA Biography

Related Links:

  • PBS - NOVA Astrospies - In 1965, Truly was among the first military astronauts selected to the USAF Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL) program in Los Angeles, California. - Astrospies: An elite corps of secret U.S. astronauts is trained to gather intelligence on the Soviets during the Cold War.
  • Richard Harrison Truly - Wikipedia
  • Richard Harrison Truly - NASA Biography - [Archived]
  • Richard H. Truly Biographical File, History Collection, Scientific and Technical Information Center, NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX. 6 SEPTEMBER 2000
    • Dahlgren, Virginia was selected as the site of the new Naval Space Command headquarters because the Naval Space Surveillance System activity was already located there. Plus, it met the new command's requirements with minimal changes. The necessary communications links to other space related command centers were already in place. When Commodore Richard H. Truly became the first commander of Naval Space Command, he stated that the command's mission was to operate space systems, not develop nor acquire new systems
    • "Space Anchors Aweigh," The Officer, Nov 1984, 21-23. - [no link yet]
  • NREL Director Richard Truly Announces Retirement Plans - June 8, 2004
    • Vice Admiral Richard H. Truly, director of the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), today announced that he plans to retire in early November 2004 after more than seven years as NREL's director.
  • Richard H. Truly - Director Xcel Energy, Incorporated - Forbes Profile
  • VADM Richard H. Truly (USN, Ret.) - Richard H. Truly, director of GTRI and vice president of Georgia Institute of Technology, 1992-1997.
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