CU astronaut to bring home precious medals at football game

By Staff

Photo courtesy of NASA

In March, astronaut Steve Swanson had a couple of CU medals with him while traveling on the space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station. On Saturday, the University of Colorado at Boulder alumnus will bring those keepsakes in for a landing at Folsom Stadium.

At halftime of the CU-Texas A&M football game on Nov. 7, Swanson will present the two medals to the university. CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano and physics department Chair Paul Beale will accept the medals on behalf of the university community.

Swanson earned his undergraduate degree in engineering physics in 1983, and had previously traveled to the International Space Station in June 2007 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. He made two space walks on this year's Discovery mission.

Swanson, who has spent 27 days and traveled 11.1 million miles in space, also will visit with elementary school and CU-Boulder students during his visit. The morning of Friday, Nov. 6, he will meet with students at Lafayette's Ryan Elementary School, a Boulder Valley School District "magnet" school with a curriculum that focuses on math and science. That afternoon, Swanson will visit the CU-Boulder physics department and speak with students in a physics honors seminar in a visit hosted by Beale.

Fans will have a chance to meet Swanson before Saturday's game. The CU-Boulder Alumni Association will host a free, informal autograph session with Swanson at its pregame reception on Benson Field, directly south of Folsom Field. Two-for-one tickets to the game are available at by using the promotional code "BUFFALOES."

Some 18 CU alumni astronauts have flown 41 missions in space, beginning with a flight by Scott Carpenter in 1962 during NASA's Mercury program. CU ranks in the top five universities in the nation, excluding military academies, in the number of alumni astronauts who have flown in space.