top of page

Iowa History Daily: July 13 - George "Pinky" Nelson

Iowa History Daily: On July 13, 1950, American astronaut George D. “Pinky” Nelson was born in Charles City. A veteran of three space shuttle flights, Nelson soared as an important member of America’s space shuttle program during the 1980s.

After spending his initial years in Floyd County, Nelson went on to graduate from Willmar High School in Minnesota before obtaining degrees from Harvey Mudd College and the University of Washington. Following graduation with a PhD in 1978, NASA selected Nelson for the astronaut program.

Nelson worked initially as a scientific equipment operator and as a part of the team working to perfect the space suit. During the first orbital space shuttle mission, Nelson served as a photographer in the primary chase plane. Nelson prepared for his own time in space while serving in support roles for many of the early space shuttle flights.

In 1984, Nelson’s time came to reach for the stars on the space shuttle Challenger. After a successful mission, NASA again tabbed Nelson for service in 1986 on the space shuttle Columbia. Finally, in 1988, Nelson served on the space shuttle Discovery in NASA’s ‘return to flight’ mission following the Challenger disaster. Nelson spent a total of 411 hours in space. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


bottom of page