Colonel Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr, USAF

astronauts, Alvin Drew Jr, NASA

(November 5, 1962)

Benjamin Alvin Drew – Al Drew – came to NASA as a mission specialist in July 2000 from the US Air Force where he began his career as a helicopter pilot. Assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command, Al Drew flew combat missions in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He subsequently gained fixed wing qualification before moving on to Naval Test Pilot School. His first flight to space was aboard STS-118 on Space Shuttle Endeavour in August 2007.

The mission was the first flight of Endeavour since November 2002, which was also the last successful Shuttle flight before the loss of the Columbia. STS-118 also had a connection to the other Shuttle tragedy as one of the other rookies on the mission was Barbara Morgan. Originally a teacher, Morgan was the backup to Christa McAuliffe, the teacher killed in the Challenger disaster in 1986. The primary purpose of the mission was continued construction of the International Space Station (ISS). By the end of STS-118 then NASA administrator, Michael Griffin, reported that the ISS was 60% complete

Al Drew’s second mission launched in February 2011 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery. STS-133 was Discovery’s final flight before retirement of the shuttle fleet. Drew conducted his first of two EVAs during the mission, becoming the 200th person to walk in space in the process.

Photographed at his home in Clear Lake, Houston. October 2007.