MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Enrico Piazza
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEJuly 2, 1998
TWO JPL SCIENTISTS SELECTED AS ASTRONAUT CANDIDATES
Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists Dr. Stanley G. Love and
Dr. John D. Olivas have been selected by NASA for the 1998
Astronaut Candidate Program, and will report to NASA's Johnson
Space Center in Houston, TX, in mid-August to begin one year of
training and evaluation.
The two will train to become mission specialists, astronauts
who in charge of operating experiments, deploying satellites and
handling many other aspects of Space Shuttle missions.
Both scientists said they have been fascinated with space
since childhood. And as is often the case, both had previously
applied for the astronaut program. Only 25 people were selected
this year, out of more than 2,600 applicants.
Since joining JPL a year ago, Love has been a staff engineer
working with computer models of space optical instruments, such
as the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer, which will determine
the chemical composition of Earth's atmosphere with unprecedented
Love has been part of a team working to develop new methods
for estimating the condition of the optics in space telescopes.
He has applied these techniques to the Hubble Space Telescope,
where they can be used to sharpen up existing images. Hubble also
provides a useful test case for future missions, such as the Next
Generation Space Telescope, which will have built-in optical
adjustment capabilities. Love also worked on reengineering JPL
Love said his fascination with space started with science-
"I started reading sci-fi books at 6, and I always loved
space and astronomy," he said.
However, it was only when a fellow graduate of his college
went on to become an astronaut that he realized he too could
realize his dream to visit space.
"I thought, if he could do it, it is possible. So I started
to apply while I was working on my Ph.D., and updated my
application every year," he said.
His tenacity eventually paid off.
"I didn't get hired that time, didn't get hired the second
time, then I finally got hired this time. I'm very honored, and
delighted," he said.
Before joining JPL, Love held a post-doctorate appointment
in the California Institute of Technology's Geological and
Planetary Sciences Division. In his two years at Caltech, Love
researched how metal and minerals behave under hard pressures and
violent impacts using light gas gun and computer simulations, as
well as studying simulated asteroid collisions using a
Soon after earning a doctorate in astronomy from the
University of Washington in 1993, Love held a one-year post-
doctorate research position at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics
and Planetology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. There, Love
developed analytical models for collisional heating, melting and
breakup of asteroids, as well as studying the formation and
composition of meteorites, and the likelihood and predicted
properties of meteorites from the planet Mercury.
After graduating in 1983 from Winston Churchill High School
in Eugene, OR, Love earned a bachelor's degree in physics from
Harvey Mudd College in 1987 and a master's degree in astronomy
from the University of Washington in 1989 before receiving his
Born in San Diego on June 8, 1965, Love lives in Pasadena
with his wife, Jancy C. McPhee, a molecular biologist at Caltech.
They have a son, Gavin, who will turn 2 this month.
Olivas is a program element manager in JPL's Advanced
Interconnect and Manufacturing Assurance Section. Joining the
Laboratory in 1996, he has done extensive research for the Deep
Space 2, Stardust and Champollion missions, as well as the X-33,
a prototype reusable launch vehicle.
As a mechanical and material engineer, his research focuses
on studying how different materials -- from plastic to metal to
ceramic -- behave once exposed to light, radiation, increased
temperature and pressure. The goal is to understand what the
specific material does at the atomic level.
Born May 25, 1966 in North Hollywood, Olivas grew up in El
Paso, TX, where his parents still live.
Olivas said it was a summer trip to the Johnson Space Center
and Kennedy Space Center with his family that inflamed his
fascination with space. He was only 7 years old, but realized
right away that that was his calling, and to become an astronaut
have been a life-long dream ever since.
"For me it was just standing next to this Saturn V launch
vehicle that was at JSC. I remember being very impressed by its
size," he said. "That trip was really an inspiration, especially
listening to those little voice-boxes in JSC's museum playing
recording of the landing of the Apollo mission on the Moon and
the voice of Neil Armstrong."
Olivas said that he also likes the Earth-based portion of
astronauts' job description: interacting with the public and
helping others to realize their potential, especially children,
who need to understand why is important to study science.
"I think that a big part of science can be very complex and
intricate, very beautiful scientifically and mathematically," he
said. "But it's only when you can take that science and turn it
into something that people can really understand and relate to
that we are really doing our jobs as scientists and engineers."
He credited the JPL environment and his family's support for
his successful bid to join the astronaut program.
"I've been very fortunate in my career: I had a lot of good
opportunities to work with dynamite people and I think that
really helped me progress in my career," he said. "If you got the
right people around you to support you, you can do pretty much
everything. And I have a very supportive family."
A graduate of Burges High School, El Paso, TX, Olivas earned
a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University
of Texas, El Paso, in 1989, a master's degree in mechanical
engineering from the University of Houston in 1993, and a
doctorate in mechanical engineering and materials, at Rice
University, TX, in 1996.
Olivas and his wife, Marie, live in Redondo Beach. They have
a 3-year-old daughter, Isabella, and a 20-month-old son, James.
The training in Texas will last at least a year. In addition
to classes on shuttle systems, candidates will study basic
science and technology, from mathematics to geology to guidance
and navigation. Candidates also receive training in parachute
jumping, land and sea survival training, scuba diving and space
Six JPL employees were previously selected for the Astronaut
Candidate Program or have served as payload specialists. They
include Jay Apt, G. David Low, Andy Thomas and Stephanie Wilson;
Dr. Eugene Trinh and Dr. Taylor Wang flew their own experiments
on the Space Shuttle as payload specialists.