Former NASA Astronaut Sid Gutierrez will be visiting Cross Plains on Monday, Nov. 26. The Cross Plains Public Library will be hosting a Texas Bar-B-Q, catered by Bubba's Smokehouse, in his honor that evening at 6:30 p.m. in the First Baptist Church Family Life Center. Gutierrez will be the keynote speaker and share his experiences aboard shuttle missions STS-40 and STS-59. Cost for the event is $15; reservations may be made by calling the library at (254) 725-7722. Remember that the library will be closed for the Thanksgiving holidays, so the deadline for reservations is Wednesday, Nov. 21st.

In honor of his visit, the City of Cross Plains will proclaim this day as “Sid Gutierrez Day” and award him a key to the city. Students from Cross Plains, Coleman, Baird and other area schools will attend elementary and high school level presentations by Gutierrez that afternoon.

Sidney “Sid” Gutierrez was born June 27, 1951, in Albuquerque, N. M. He graduated from Valley High School there in 1969, received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1973, and a Master of Arts degree in Management from Webster College in 1977.

Selected by NASA in May 1984, Sid Gutierrez became an astronaut in June 1985. In 1988, he became the Astronaut Office lead for Shuttle software development, verification, and future requirements definition. In 1989 he helped support the launches of STS-28, 30, 32, 33, and 34 at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

Colonel Gutierrez first entered space as Pilot on STS-40 Columbia, launched from KSC on June 5, 1991. This was SLS-1, the first Spacelab Life Sciences mission, which focused on how humans, animals, and cells respond to microgravity and re-adapt to Earth's gravity on return. Other experiments investigated materials science, plant biology and cosmic radiation. Following 146 orbits of the Earth in 218 hours, Columbia and her crew landed at Edwards AFB, California, on June 14, 1991.

Gutierrez was next spacecraft communicator (CapCom), the voice link between the flight crew and mission control, for STS- 42, 45, 46, 49, and 52. In 1992 he became the Astronaut Office Branch Chief for Operations Development, overseeing ascent, entry, abort, software, rendezvous, Shuttle systems, main engines, solid rocket boosters, external tank, and landing and rollout issues.

On April 9, 1994, Colonel Gutierrez returned to space as Commander of STS-59 Endeavour, Space Radar Laboratory (SRL-l). Part of “Mission to Planet Earth,” this was an eleven-day flight dedicated to the study of the Earth and the atmosphere around it. The two primary payloads were the Space-borne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar, and Measurement of Air Pollution from Space. The crew completed over 400 precise maneuvers, a Shuttle record, and recorded enough data to fill 26,000 encyclopedias. Areas of investigation included ecology, oceanography, geology, and hydrology. The Endeavour completed 183 orbits of the Earth in 270 hours before landing at Edwards AFB, California, on April 20, 1994. In his two missions Colonel Gutierrez logged over twenty days and eight hours in space.

In September 1994, Sid Gutierrez retired from the U.S. Air Force and from NASA. He returned to Albuquerque to work for Sandia National Laboratories. From September 1994 to March 1995, he served as Manager for their Strategic Initiatives Department then was Manager of the Airborne Sensors and Integration Department in the Exploratory Systems Development Center. He also served as Chairman of the Governor's Technical Excellence Committee Spaceport Task Force. Among his many honors are the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal, two NASA Space Flight Medals, the 1990 Congressional Hispanic Caucus Award, the Aviation Week and Space Technology Aerospace Laureate in Space and Missiles for 1991; Aviation Week and Space Technology's Citation for Aerospace Laureate in Space and Missiles for 1994, Distinguished Graduate of the USAF Academy; the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, the National Defense Service Medal, and as an Air Training Command Master Instructor.

Join us for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.