Nancy Jan Davis (born Nancy Jan Smotherman, November 1, 1953) is a former American astronaut.
A veteran of three space flights, Dr. Davis has logged over 673 hours in space.
Davis became an astronaut in June 1987.
Her initial technical assignment was in the Astronaut Office Mission Development Branch, where she provided technical support for Space shuttle payloads.
She then served as a CAPCOM in Mission Control communicating with Shuttle crews for seven missions.
After her first space flight, Davis served as the Astronaut Office representative for the Remote Manipulator System (RMS), with responsibility for RMS operations, training, and payloads.
After Jan’s second space flight, she served as the Chairperson of the NASA Education Working Group and as Chief for the Payloads Branch, which provided Astronaut Office support for all Shuttle and International Space Station payloads.
After graduating from Auburn University in 1977, Davis joined Texaco in Bellaire, Texas, working as a petroleum engineer in tertiary oil recovery.
She left there in 1979 to work for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as an aerospace engineer.
In 1986, she was named as team leader in the Structural Analysis Division, and her team was responsible for the structural analysis and verification of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the HST maintenance mission, and the Advanced X-Ray Astrophysics Facility.
In 1987, she was also assigned to be the lead engineer for the redesign of the solid rocket booster external tank attach ring.
Dr. Davis was a mission specialist on STS-47, Spacelab-J, the 50th Space Shuttle mission.
Launched on September 12, 1992, this cooperative venture between the United States and Japan, conducted 43 experiments in life sciences and materials processing.
During the eight-day mission, she was responsible for operating Spacelab and its subsystems and performing a variety of experiments.
After completing 126 orbits of the Earth, STS-47 Endeavour landed at Kennedy Space Center on September 20, 1992.
Dr. Davis was also a mission specialist on STS-60, which were the second flight of Spacehab (Space Habitation Module) and the first flight of the Wake Shield Facility (WSF).
Launched on February 3, 1994, this flight was the first Space Shuttle flight on which a Russian Cosmonaut was a crew member.
During the eight-day mission, her prime responsibility was to maneuver the WSF on the RMS, to conduct thin film crystal growth.
She also was responsible for performing scientific experiments in the Spacehab and was trained to perform many extravehicular activity (EVA), if required.
The STS-60 Discovery landed at Kennedy Space Center on February 11, 1994, after completing 130 orbits of the Earth.
On the eleven-day mission, she will deploy and retrieve the CRISTA-SPAS payload, and will operate the Japanese Manipulator Flight Demonstration (MFD) robotic arm.
Astronauts are extraordinary people, I wish I could be one myself; Jan has a passion for her job, “there are rules as far as being government employees, but NASA doesn’t monitor or restrict the private lives of employees,” NASA spokesperson Kylie Clem, of the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, told SPACE.com, adding that the guidelines are currently expected to remain unchanged.