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NASA Shuttle Pilot is Korean-American

Posted December. 18, 2006 07:04,   


“This article documents a person who is currently in space.”

This is the first sentence that shows up on the webpage of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, if you look up the words “Mark Polansky.” However, it says nowhere that the 50-year-old Polansky, who is currently assigned as a captain pilot on the Space Shuttle Discovery, is half- Korean.

Asianweek, the weekly magazine that runs articles about Asians within the U.S., recently introduced Captain Mark as a Korean-American, born of his Korean mother and Caucasian father.

Mark’s maternal grandmother, born in 1900 in Pyongyang, North Korea, immigrated to Honolulu, Hawaii and gave birth to her daughter, Edith, who got married to the pharmacist Polansky. Mark was born in June 1956, New Jersey.

In 1969, the 13-year-old Mark starts to dream of being an astronaut when he saw Apollo 11 landing on the moon. The boy, who dreamed of space traveling, concentrated on studying math and science. Afterwards, he was educated at Purdue where he got a bachelor degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering.

After receiving an Air Force commission in January 1980, he served as a pilot while making a record of over 5,000 flight hours in over 30 different aircraft. After leaving the army in 1992, he was granted his wish to enter the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Polansky taught space shuttle landing techniques at the Johnson Space Center. Despite a failure on his first try for the space astronaut test, he eventually passed the examination in 1996 and trained hard for the next two years.

It was in 2001, when his first space flight mission began.

On that year, he served as a pilot on STS-98 Atlantis, which was launched on February 7 and logged over 309 hours in space until February 20.

Mark said, “My parents always told me that there are no limits. My father passed away four months after he saw me being an astronaut. I was glad that he got to see it when he was still alive.”

In his free time, Mark enjoys visiting schools and talking to young children, according to Asianweek. He says to the kids, “Find something that makes you happy. Have dreams. Set your goals and achieve it. Get a good education and do your best.”

In his hometown, New Jersey, there is a park named after him. As being a mixed heritage, he is particularly dedicated to being an advocate for women and minorities.

He married and is father of a daughter since 2004.