Lu: Out of this world Cornell alum

(photo: NASA)


lu-ed2Edward Lu joined our Psi Chapter at Cornell University on March 21, 1981, as their 621st member. And his fascinating journey began. Along the way, he received his PhD in Applied Physics from Stanford University, and oh, also added NASA astronaut to his resume. He flew the Space Shuttle twice, the Russian Soyuz, and a six month tour on the International Space Station. Altogether he logged over 206 days in space and an EVA (spacewalk) totaling 6 hours and 14 minutes. Dr. Lu flew as a mission specialist on STS-84 in 1997, as a payload commander and lead spacewalker on STS-106 in 2000, as flight engineer of Soyuz TMA-2, and served as NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer on ISS Expedition-7 in 2003.

In 2003, in the weeks following the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Dr. Lu was called upon by NASA to launch to the International Space Station in order to maintain operations on orbit with a two person skeleton crew. He completed the Russian Soyuz training in just nine weeks and became the first American to launch as the Flight Engineer aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. He and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko then spent six months aboard the ISS, demonstrating that the Space Station could be maintained while carrying on productive scientific research with just two people.

Recognitions in this twelve year NASA career include NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, as well as the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, Russian Medal of Merit for Spaceflight, Gagarin Medal, FŽdŽration AŽronautique Internationale Komorov Medal, Beregovoy Medal and three (3) NASA Spaceflight medals.

His ability to relate to others is well documented in the letters he wrote while aboard the space station. In his last letter to ‘earthlings’ before his return to earth, he shares, “By now I think I move around here just as well as they did. Yuri and I almost never run into anything now, and I can zip from one end of the station to the other in no time. My technique for flying is a little different. Instead of flying headfirst like Superman, which requires that you first rotate your body so that it is pointing where you want to go, I find that it is easiest to simply launch yourself in whatever direction your body is aligned. Then I use a hand to absorb the energy and rebound off the wall or ceiling while changing my direction as well as rotating my body, then again rebound off the next surface with my feet. Each time I rebound I slowly correct my direction and rotation until I am going where I want. Usually it only takes 2 bounces. If you’ve ever seen the cartoon “The Tick” – I move around something like the Tick when he bounds around the city, except I don’t crush anything. I like to do flips and spins when I fly around now…”

But now for the really special connection. During his six months in space, Dr. Lu was kind enough to take time from his mission to record a special message for our members attending the 2003 sessions of Pi Kapp College (view video below). You read that correctly, we received a personal recording from him opening the conference held at Furman University… from outer space.

We have so many members who have achieved great accomplishments and contributed to our world in many ways. We are surely fortunate to list Dr. Lu among our membership. He was inducted into our Hall of Fame at the 2004 Supreme Chapter and is currently writing a book about his experiences on the International Space Station.

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To learn more about Dr. Lu, please visit his website