John Bennett Herrington, an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, is the first Native American astronaut to accomplish space travel and a spacewalk. On his journey to the International Space Station, he carried eagle feathers, arrowheads, wooden flutes, and flags of the Chickasaw and Crow nations.
Former NASA astronaut and US Navy officer John Bennett Herrington, of Chickasaw heritage, was born on September 14, 1958, in Wetumka, Oklahoma, and lived in Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas, before he graduated from Plano Senior High School in 1976. Herrington received a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado in 1983 and entered the US Navy in 1984. In 1990 Herrington attended the US Navy Test Pilot School in Maryland and was a test pilot at the US Navy Force Warfare Aircraft Test Directorate from 1991-1993. He completed a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the US Naval Postgraduate School in 1995.
In 1996 NASA selected John Herrington as an astronaut taking him on several exciting missions. He has flown various aircraft, including the P-3 Orion, the T-34C, and the de Havilland Dash 7. ,
NASA considers Herrington the first Indigenous astronaut to accomplish space travel and a spacewalk. On his journey to the International Space Station on November 23, 2002, he carried eagle feathers, arrowheads, wooden flutes, and flags of the Chickasaw and Crow nations.
The space shuttle STS-113 Endeavour, launched on November 23, 2002, traveled to the International Space Station from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and returned on December 7, 2002. The mission accomplished the delivery of a new crew to the space station, the delivery and installation of the P1 Truss, a transfer of cargo, and the return of the former space station crew. Herrington accomplished three spacewalks totaling nineteen hours and fifty-five minutes.
In July 2004, Herrington served as the commander of NEEMO 6 (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations), an underwater laboratory known as Aquarius, which is used to study human survival techniques in preparation for additional space exploration.
In December 2007, he began a public speaking career while working with the Chickasaw Nation. Always seeking new adventures, Herrington made a 4,300-mile cross-country bicycle trip across the United States in 2008. He returned to university and earned a doctorate in Education.
Bennington has received many accolades, including being inducted into the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Oklahoma Aviation and Space Hall of Fame in 2007.
Author/Editor: Bradley W. MicskyBradley W. Micsky
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