Colonel Frederick D. Gregory (USAF, Ret.) was born January 7, 1941, in Washington, D.C. to Francis A. Gregory and Nora Drew Gregory. After graduating from Anacostia High School, in Washington, in 1958 Mr. Gregory entered the United States Air Force Academy where he studied military engineering and received a bachelor of science degree from in 1964.Since childhood, he had a passion for speed, racing a small aluminum boat in waters off Columbia Beach near Washington, D.C. He says, "I always wanted to fly."
After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 1964, Gregory entered pilot training and attended undergraduate helicopter training at Stead Air Force Base, Nevada. He received his wings in 1965 and was assigned as an H-43 helicopter rescue pilot at Vance AFB, Oklahoma, from October 1965 until May 1966. In June 1966, he was assigned as an H-43 combat rescue pilot at Danang AB, Vietnam. When he returned to the United States in July 1967, he was assigned as a missile support helicopter pilot flying the UH-1F at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. In January 1968, Gregory was retrained as a fixed-wing pilot flying the T-38 at Randolph AFB, Texas. He was then assigned to the F-4 Phantom Combat Crew Training Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. Gregory attended the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland, from September 1970 to June 1971. Following completion of this training, he was assigned to the 4950th Test Wing, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, as an operational test pilot flying fighters and helicopters.
In June 1974, Gregory was detailed to the NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia. During his time there, he earned a master’s degree in information systems from George Washington University in 1977. He served as a research test pilot at Langley until selected for the Astronaut Program in January 1978. After his selection as an astronaut and subsequent training, Mr. Gregory flew three shuttle missions, making history with two.
STS-51B/Spacelab-3 launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on April 29, 1985 with Colonel Frederick D. Gregory as pilot, becoming the first African-American to pilot a spacecraft. The crew aboard the Orbiter Challenger included spacecraft commander, Robert Overmyer; mission specialists, Norman Thagard, William Thornton, and Don Lind; and payload specialists, Taylor Wang and Lodewijk Vandenberg. On this second flight of the laboratory developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), the crew conducted a broad range of scientific experiments ranging from space physics to the suitability of animal-holding facilities. The crew also deployed the Northern Utah Satellite (NUSAT). After seven days of around-the-clock scientific operations, Challenger and its laboratory cargo landed on the dry lakebed at Edwards AFB, California, on May 6, 1985.
STS-33 launched at night, from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on November 22, 1989. On board the Orbiter Discovery, Gregory’s crew included the pilot, John Blaha, and three mission specialists, Manley (Sonny) Carter, Story Musgrave, and Kathryn Thornton. The mission carried Department of Defense payloads and other secondary payloads. After 79 orbits of the Earth, this five-day mission concluded on November 27, 1989, with a hard surface landing on Runway 04 at Edwards AFB, California. The secrecy of the mission nearly hid the fact that it was the first space mission commanded by an African-American, Frederick Gregory.
Gregory's final flight was STS-44, which launched at night from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on November 24, 1991 with him as commander. During 110 orbits of the Earth, the crew successfully deployed their prime payload, the Defense Support Program (DSP) satellite. They worked on a variety of secondary payloads ranging from the Military Man in Space experiment designed to evaluate the ability of a space borne observer to gather information about ground troops, equipment and facilities, and also participated in extensive studies evaluating medical countermeasures to long duration space flight. The crew aboard the Orbiter Atlantis included the pilot Tom Henricks; three mission specialists, Story Musgrave, Jim Voss, and Mario Runco Jr.; and payload specialist Tom Hennen. The mission concluded on December 1, 1991, with a landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
From June 1992 to December 2001, Mr. Gregory held the position of Associate Administrator, Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, at NASA Headquarters. As Associate Administrator, he was responsible for assuring the safety, reliability, quality, and mission assurance of all NASA programs.
From December 2001 to August 2002 he served as the Associate Administrator for Space Flight and was responsible for overseeing the management of the International Space Station; Space Shuttle operations; Space Access using Expendable Launch Vehicles for commercial launch services; Space Communications; and Advanced Programs.
Frederick D. Gregory is currently the Deputy Administrator of NASA. He assumed this position in August 2002. He serves as the chief operating officer for the Agency and reports directly to NASA's Administrator. He is responsible for directing and managing many of the programs as well as the day-to-day operations and activities at NASA.
His honors include the Air Force and DOD, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, 16 Air Medals, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, Legion of Merit, Defense Superior Service Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, National Intelligence Medal; NASA, 3 Space Flight Medals, 2 Outstanding Leadership Medals, Distinguished Service Medal; National Society of Black Engineers Distinguished National Scientist Award; the George Washington University Distinguished Alumni Award; President's Medal, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science; Honorary Doctor of Science Degrees from the College of Aeronautics and the University of the District of Columbia. He was also awarded the Air Force Association Ira Eaker Award as well as numerous civic and community honors.
He is married to the former Barbara Archer. They have two grown children. Frederick, D., Jr., is a Captain in the Air Force, and a graduate of Stanford University. Heather Lynn is a social worker and graduate of Sweet Briar College. The Gregorys also have four grandchildren.
- Awarded the Presidential Rank Award
- Awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal
- The Air Force Legion of Merit
- 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses
- The Defense Meritorious Service Medal
- The Meritorious Service Medal
- 16 Air Medals
- The Air Force Commendation Medal
- 2 NASA Distinguished Service Medals
- 3 NASA Space Flight Medals
- Recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Award
- The National Society of Black Engineers Distinguished National Scientist Award (1979)
- An honorary doctor of science degree from the University of the District of Columbia (1986)
- The George Washington University Distinguished Alumni Award
- Designated an "Ira Eaker Fellow" by the Air Force Association
- Recipient of numerous NASA group and individual achievement awards as well as civic and community awards.