Michael Gernhardt

Dr Michael Gernhardt

NASA Astronaut, Manager of Environmental Physiology Laboratory and Principle Investigator of Prebreath Reduction Program, Johnson Space Center

From 1977 to 1984, Gernhardt worked as a professional deep sea diver and project engineer on a variety of sub sea oil field construction and repair projects around the world. He has logged over 700 deep sea dives and has experience in air, mixed gas, bounce bell and saturation diving. During his diving career Gernhardt attended graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania and developed a new theoretical decompression model based on tissue gas bubble dynamics. He then participated in the development and field implementation of a variety of new decompression tables. From 1984 to 1988, Gernhardt worked as Manager and then Vice President of Special Projects for Oceaneering International. During this time he led the development of a telerobotic system for sub sea platform cleaning and inspection as well as a variety of new diver and robot tools. In 1988 he founded Oceaneering Space Systems, a company formed to transfer sub sea technology and operational experience to the ISS program. From 1988 until his selection by NASA in 1992, he worked on the development of new astronaut and robot-compatible tools for performing maintenance on Space Station Freedom. He also worked on the development of new portable life support systems and decompression procedures for extravehicular activity.

Dr. Gernhardt was selected by NASA in March 1992, and reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1992. Technical assignments to date include: flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL); development of nitrox diving to support training for the Hubble Space Telescope repair and on a variety of Space Station EVA developments; member of the astronaut support team at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, responsible for Shuttle prelaunch vehicle checkout, crew ingress/egress; spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) at Mission Control Center, Houston, during various Shuttle missions; lead an international research team in developing a new exercise prebreathe protocol that improved the safety and efficiency of space walks from the ISS. Gernhardt presently serves as a member of the astronaut office EVA branch, Project Scientist of the EVA Physiology System and Performance Project (EPSP), Manager of JSC’s Environmental Physiology Laboratory, and Project Manager of the Small Pressurize Rover project.

A four flight veteran, Dr. Gernhardt has logged over 43 days in space, including 4 spacewalks totaling 23 hours and 16 minutes. He was a mission specialist on STS-69 in 1995, STS-83 in 1997, STS-94 in 1997 and STS-104 in 2001. Additionally he was crewmember on the NEEMO (NASA Extreme Enviroment Mission Operations) One, and Commander of the NEEMO eight multi-day underwater missions. He also served as a submersible pilot on the Pavilion Lake Expedition focused on exploring a deep water lake in western Canada where unusual life forms called microbiolites have very recently been discovered.

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