Benjamin Alvin Drew, Jr. is a NASA astronaut and retired United States Air Force colonel who completed two space flights and was the 200th person to walk in space. Drew was born on 5 November 1962 in Washington, D.C. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science in Astronautical Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Physics and became a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He earned a helicopter qualification and his pilot wings in 1985 after completing Undergraduate Helicopter Pilot Training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. His initial assignment was as a combat rescue helicopter pilot from 1985-1987. From 1987-1992, Drew served in U.S. Air Force Special Operations during which time he flew 60 combat missions in operations over Panama (1989), the Persian Gulf (1990-1991), and Northern Iraq (1991-1992). In 1992, he returned to flight training and obtained a jet aircraft rating, becoming a test pilot at the Naval Test Pilot School in 1994. Subsequently, he worked as a project test pilot, commanded two flight test organizations and served on the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command staff. Drew earned a Master of Aerospace Science degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in 1995. In July 2000, he was selected as a mission specialist by NASA. After completing two years of training and evaluation, he was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Station Operations Branch and served in technical assignments until taking a sabbatical in 2005 to attend Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. After returning to NASA, Drew served as a crew member on the STS-118 Space Shuttle Endeavour mission to the International Space Station in 2007. From January-November 2009, he served as Director of Operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. Drew retired from the U.S. Air Force as a Colonel in 2010 with over 25 years of service. During his Air Force career, he piloted 30 different types of aircraft accruing over 3,500 flying hours. Drew continued his work with NASA; in 2011 he was a member of the Space Shuttle Discovery’s final mission, STS-133. During this mission, Drew became the 200th person to perform a spacewalk. He has logged more than 612 hours in space as a crew member on the Discovery and Endeavour space shuttles. Currently, Drew is serving as the NASA Liaison to Air Force Space Command, NORAD/U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Strategic Command. He resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Years Honored: 2015
Aircraft/Specialty: Space Shuttle STS-133
Colonel Benjamin Alvin Drew, Jr. serves as a crewmember aboard Space Shuttle Discovery, shown staging during its final mission launch of STS-133, on 24 February 2011 from Kennedy Space Center.