The London and South East Branch reaches for the stars

17 September 2013

On Tuesday 10th September the LSE Branch was thrilled to be joined by Air Force Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Duane “Digger” Carey - former NASA astronaut – who spoke at the London Centre about his exploits piloting the space shuttle sent to repair the Hubble telescope. It was a hugely successful and inspiring event that drew a huge audience to Portland Place.

The London and South East Branch reaches for the stars

Duane grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and by 1981 had earned a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. By 1982 he had received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics and a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Minnesota. 

During his 22 plus years in the Air Force, Digger logged over 1000 flight hours each in the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the T-38 Talon. He served in the U.S., South Korea, Spain, and Turkey. During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device and three Air Medals. He was later selected to attend the United States Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California. After graduation, he tested F-16’s, specializing in aircraft performance and flying qualities. He has logged over 4300 hours in over 35 different models of aircraft.

Digger joined NASA’s Astronaut Corps in 1996. In 2002, he piloted the Space Shuttle Columbia on mission STS-109, a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. During his ten-plus days in space, Digger and his crew covered over 3.9 million miles and circled the Earth 165 times. After his space mission, he served in Houston Mission Control as a CAPCOM and was working there the fateful morning of the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster. Digger and his crew were the last ones ever to successfully complete a mission aboard Columbia.

Branch Chair Mark Telling and the Careys

In late 2004, Digger left NASA and the Air Force to embark upon a new life.  He and his wife Cheryl are currently engaged in educating young people and other Americans about the importance of America’s exploration and research programs. They are inspiring young people to pursue educations and careers in math, science, and other technical fields. To date, they have reached tens of thousands of people with their message, and almost all of their business travel is performed on motorcycles.

Digger and Cheryl have been featured in multiple Associated Press articles and in several publications including American Motorcyclist, Sport Rider, Red Rider, and Road Trip magazines. One of their goals is to ride their motorcycles around the world.

For more information about Duane and Cheryl and their outreach activities please visit:

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