Byron K. Lichtenberg is an American engineer and fighter pilot who flew aboard two NASA Space Shuttle missions as a Payload Specialist. In 1983, he and Ulf Merbold became the first Payload Specialists to fly on the shuttle.
Byron Kurt Lichtenberg was born on February 19, 1948 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, U.S. He received Sc.B. in aerospace engineering from Brown University, S.M. in mechanical engineering from MIT, Sc.D. in biomedical engineering from MIT, and later Sc.D. from Westminster College (honorary).
From 1978 to 1984 Byron K. Lichtenberg was a Researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)/Canadian Vestibular experiments on Spacelab 1, Spacelab D‑1, Spacelab SLS‑1 and SLS‑2, and a Co-principal investigator for the Mental Workload and Performance experiment flown on IML‑1 to assess human-computer workstation characteristics for the Space Station.
Byron K. Lichtenberg was the first Payload specialist. He flew on Spacelab‑1 (STS‑9) mission (10 days in 1983), conducted multiple experiments in life sciences, materials sciences, Earth observations, astronomy and solar physics, upper atmosphere and plasma physics. His second flight was ATLAS‑1 (STS-45) Spacelab mission (9 days in 1992); conducted 13 experiments in Atmospheric sciences and astronomy. Lichtenberg has flown 310 orbits, and has logged 468 hours in space.
He was a Founder of Payload Systems, Inc., a company that has provided hardware and flight support for MODE and MACE experiments for the Space Shuttle and ISS. They also were the first commercial user of the Mir Space Station, flying protein crystal growth experiments to Mir in the early 1990’s. Lichtenberg was a President of Zero Gravity Corporation, founded to make parabolic, weightless aircraft flights available to the general public. Byron K. Lichtenberg was an Air Force fighter pilot for 23 years, flying the F‑4, F‑100, and A‑10. Survived 238 combat missions during the Vietnam War, and received 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 10 Air Medals, and numerous other decorations. Lichtenberg flied as a Captain for a major Airline.
Byron K. Lichtenberg was awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal (two awards), the AIAA Haley Space Flight Award, and the FAI Komorov Award. He is the Founding Member, Association of Space Explorers, X‑Prize Foundation, and the International Space University; also a Member, User Panel for National Space Biomedical Research Institute, Tau Beta Pi (honorary engineering society), and Sigma Xi (honorary scientific society).