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Personalities: Col. Chuck "Sam" Gemar - South Dakota Astronaut

Colonel Chuck "Sam" Gemar

Chuck Gemar  was born in Yankton and graduated from Scotland high school in 1973. He was accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he earned an engineering degree in 1979.

Gemar was attached to the 24th Combat Aviation unit as an Assistant Flight Operations Officer and Flight Platoon Leader.

In 1985, Gemar was accepted into NASA's astronaut program. He flew on three space shuttle missions - 1990, 1991, and 1994. He retired from NASA in 1998.

Chuck Anderson interviewed Gemar in 1992. He asked Gemar about his feelings the night before a shuttle launch. Gemar said it's probably a more anxious time than either the launch or the spaceflight.

Col. Gemar says the launch sequence usually brings about a certain sense of calm. Everybody stays focused on their job.

The space shuttle launch sequence.

Coming back to earth begins with a de-orbit burn the slows the shuttle down.

It takes just a little deceleration to begin re-entry.

After a series of maneuvers that slow the shuttle to a manageable landing speed, the shuttle touches down and slows to a stop.

It was always a relief when the space shuttle rolled to a stop

space shuttle crew
Credit Joachim Becker/ / NASA
The STS-38 crew consisted of (from left) Pilot Frank Culbertson, Mission Specialists Carl Meade, Bob Springer and Sam Gemar, and Commander Dick Covey. Photo Credit: NASA, via Joachim Becker/

Listen to Chuck Anderson's entire interview with Col. Gemar, recorded in 1992

Col. Chuck "Sam" Gemar Interview - Complete