Dale Allan Gardner
Nov. 8, 1948 - Feb. 19, 2014
DIVIDE, Colo. — Dale Allan Gardner, age 65, of Divide, Colorado passed away unexpectedly in Colorado Springs, on February 19, 2014. Born to Alice and the late William Gardner on November 8, 1948 in Fairmont, Minnesota, he was the eldest of three children.
Upon graduation from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics, Dale entered into active duty with the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the Aviation Officer School in Pensacola, Florida.
Selected as the most promising naval officer of his class, he was awarded his Naval Flight Officer Wings in 1971 and subsequently was involved in the initial F-14 TOMCAT flight with assignment to the first operational F-14 Squadron (VF-1) at NAS Miramar, San Diego, California. After deployment on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, he was assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 4 (VX-4) at NAS Pt. Mugu, California and was selected as an Astronaut Candidate by NASA in January 1978.
Dale was chosen to join the crews of missions STS-8 aboard Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983 and STS-51A aboard Space Shuttle Discovery in 1984. Serving as Mission Specialist, he logged a total of 337 hours in space, 225 orbits of the Earth, completed two space walks totaling 12 hours and flew the Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU) backpack.
After returning to the US Navy in 1986 following 8 ½ years with NASA, Dale served over two years as the Deputy Chief of Space Control Operations Division in Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base and after promotion to the rank of Captain, he became the command’s Deputy Director for Space Control at Peterson Air Force Base.
He retired from the U.S. Navy in 1990 and served as Program Manager in the Engineering Operations of TRW Inc. He later became Manager of Northrup Grumman’s Colorado Springs operations. After 13 years, he joined the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado as the Associate Director for Renewable Fuels Science & Technology.