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Joe Tanner, astronaut, Ceredigion, Llanddewi Brefi, Wales

joe tanner iconJoseph R. "Joe" Tanner

Born in Illinois in 1950, Joe's Welsh connection is via his mother who can trace her roots back to Llanddewi Brefi, his grandfather was the head teacher there. We know astonauts are tough hombre's but they have to seriously smart too.

Space Walk, Joe Tanner, courtesy of NASAJoe graduated from Danville High School, Danville, Illinois, in 1968 and received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1973.

Joe joined the US Navy after graduating from university.

He earned his Navy pilot wings in 1975 before serving as an A-7E pilot with Light Attack Squadron 94 (VA-94) aboard the U.S.S. Coral Sea.

He finished his active service as an advanced jet instructor pilot with Training Squadron 4 (VT-4) in Pensacola, Florida before starting work for NASA in 1984 as an aerospace engineer and research pilot.

joe tanner 02

His primary flying responsibilities involved teaching the astronaut pilots Space Shuttle landing techniques in the Shuttle Training Aircraft and instructing the pilots and mission specialists in the T-38.

In addition to his flying duties, he held positions as the aviation safety officer, the head of the pilot section and the Deputy Chief of the Aircraft Operations Division (AOD). He has accumulated more than 8,862 hours in military and NASA aircraft!

Joe is also a technical specialist, courtesy of NASAJoe was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in March 1992, reporting to the Astronaut Office in August 1992. He completed one year of initial training and worked in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory before being assigned to his first mission.

joe tanner

He also served as part of the Astronaut Support Personnel team at the Kennedy Space Center, supporting Space Shuttle launches and landings, and as EVA Branch Chief.

A veteran of three space flights Joe has logged over 742 hours in space, including over 33 EVA hours in 5 space walks. He flew on STS-66 in 1994, STS-82 in 1997 and STS-97 in 2000. Joe also performed two space walks as a member of the STS-82 crew to service the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in February, 1997.

The STS-82 crew of 7 launched aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on February 11 and returned to a night landing at Kennedy Space Center on February 21. During the flight the crew completed a total of 5 space walks to improve the science capability of the telescope and replace aging support equipment, restoring HST to near perfect working condition. The crew boosted HST's orbit by 8 nautical miles before releasing it to once again study the universe.


  • Joe's two space walks totaled over 14 hours. The flight orbited the earth 150 times covering 4.1 million miles in just over nine days
  • Joe at mission control, courtesy of NASA
  • Joe has gained many distinctions during his career including:
  • NASA Exceptional Service Medal.
  • NASA Space Flight Medals.
  • NASA Stuart M. Present Flight Achievement Award.
  • JSC Superior Achievement Award.
  • Outstanding Alumnus of the Department of Mechanical
  • and Industrial Engineering, University of Illinois.
  • Distinguished graduate from Navy Flight Training.

Images and details courtesy of NASA, thanks.

Readers may be familier with Llanddewi Brefi from the BBC TV comedy show 'Little Britain' where Matt Lucas plays Daffydd, "The only gay in the village." See our David Walliams page more more details.

Connection: Mother from Llanddewi Brefi in Ceredigion.

comment by:SpaceFriday
Is it true that Jo Tanner was the first man to take a Welsh flag into space. I believe it was hand made by his grandmother especially for his trip.

comment by:winding
I went to Llanddewi Brefi school in the late 40's and was taught up to scholarship level by Mr. Owen James who was then headmaster. He was believed to be a first cousin of my mother Susanna Margaretta Adams born 1907 and died in 1995. Investigating my family tree I am trying to find out Owen James' birth date and the name of his parents?

comment by:edrobertson
I am delighted to see that lt. Tanner has made it big. I served with him in attack squadron VA94 in Lamoore, CA and aboard the USS Coral Sea when he was a ltjg. I helped load the bombs on his plane. I didn't know him well, but remember him as a real nice guy. Good luck, Jo, and continued success. (ao3) Ed Robertson

link by: coedybrenin

Other Famous Welsh Relative of Joe
Joe is also related to another famous welsh person - Gwyneth Lewis, former national poet of Wales and author of the inscription on the Wales Millenium Centre