Jeffrey Shears "Bones" Ashby (born June 16, 1954) is an American mechanical engineer, and former naval officer and aviator, test pilot and NASA astronaut, a veteran of three Space Shuttle missions. He is a retired Captain in the U.S. Navy. He currently works for Blue Origin as chief of mission assurance.
Jeff Ashby was born June 16, 1954, in Dallas, Texas, and grew up in Evergreen, Colorado, southwest of Denver. He graduated from Evergreen High School in 1972. He attended the University of Idaho, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1976. He later earned a Master of Science degree in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee in 1993.
Ashby is a 1986 graduate of the Navy Fighter Weapons School, also known as "TOPGUN", and the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. As a test pilot in the U.S. Navy, Ashby helped develop the F/A-18 aircraft and flew the aircraft in combat missions as part of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Southern Watch during and after the Gulf War and as part of Operation Continue Hope in Somalia. He was the Navy Attack Aviator of the Year in 1991. Ashby commanded a Fighter Squadron stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln; in 1994, his squadron was designated the top F/A-18 squadron in the Navy.
Ashby accumulated over 7,000 flight hours and 1,000 carrier landings during six aircraft carrier deployments in his Navy career.
Ashby was selected as an astronaut candidate in December 1994 at age 40. He was initially scheduled to be the pilot on STS-85 in 1997 but was replaced due to a family illness. He piloted Space Shuttle missions STS-93 in July 1999 and STS-100 in April 2001, and commanded mission STS-112 in October 2002.
His first flight, aboard Columbia, deployed the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Ashby's latter two flights aboard Endeavour and Atlantis were the sixth and ninth assembly missions for the International Space Station. He has traveled over 11 million miles, flown 436 orbits around the Earth, and logged over 660 hours (27.5 days) in space.
Ashby was hired by Jeff Bezos's private spaceflight company Blue Origin as the Chief of Mission Assurance, where he works to assure safety for human space flight.
Awards and decorations
- Defense Superior Service Medal
- Legion of Merit
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Defense Meritorious Service Medal
- Meritorious Service Medal
- Navy Air Medal (4x)
- Navy Commendation Medal (2x)
- Navy Achievement Medal
- Navy Attack Aviator of the Year (1991)
- NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
- NASA Exceptional Service Medal
- NASA Space Flight Medal (3x)