Former space shuttle commander returns to UWRF during Homecoming Week


October 3, 2017--As part of homecoming celebrations this week, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls will welcome 1965 alumnus and space shuttle commander Dan Brandenstein back to campus.

Brandenstein holds degrees in physics and mathematics from UW-River Falls. During his time on campus, Brandenstein was a resident assistant, participated in math and physics clubs, the Social Committee and Student Senate.

“UW-River Falls had a very friendly atmosphere and there was always plenty to do,” Brandenstein said. “The faculty’s dedication to students was far above what I anticipated or expected.”

During his senior year, Brandenstein joined the Navy and logged over 6,400 hours of flying time in 24 different aircraft and conducted 400 carrier landings.

In August 1979, Brandenstein became an astronaut with NASA and piloted his first space flight on STS-8 onboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. During the mission, the crew deployed the Indian National Satellite, along with various experiments.

He went on to command three more space shuttle flights including STS-51G (Orbiter Discovery), STS-32 (Orbiter Columbia) and STS-49 (Orbiter Endeavor). During STS-32, Brandenstein and crew performed a record four spacewalks to retrieve and repair the INTELSAT satellite.

In addition to his impressive list of accomplishments, Brandenstein was inducted to the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2003 and is a Society of Experimental Test Pilots Iven Kincheloe Award winner.

Brandenstein lives in Houston and retired as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the United Space Alliance. He serves as chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Brandenstein will appear as a guest on the third episode of WRFW’s “Welcome Home Week” airing Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 5 p.m. You can listen to the interview on 88.7 FM or streaming at

Founded in 1874, UW-River Falls is located in a scenic community just 30 miles from downtown St. Paul. UWRF students are empowered, beginning in their first semester, to participate in hands-on research, global travel and collaborative learning with award-winning and caring faculty.

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