Search Johnson


Text Size

Jeffrey Carr October 8, 1993

RELEASE: 93-077

Former Astronaut Karl Henize Dies on Mt. Everest Expedition

Senior NASA scientist and former astronaut Karl G. Henize, Ph.D., has died during a climbing expedition on Mount Everest.

Henize, who was on leave from NASA at the time, was participating in the expedition conducted by a British research group called High Adventure BVI, under the auspices of the Loel Guiness Research Foundation. The Guiness Foundation was established to encourage the exchange of ideas between scientific groups and academics from different cultural backgrounds. NASA scientists and astronauts have recently been consulting with High Adventure regarding high altitude parachuting research.

NASA officials at the Johnson Space Center were notified of Dr. Henize's death, this morning, by High Adventure officials who recounted the sequence of events which led to his passing. After several days of acclimatization in Kathmandu, Nepal, and then at an expedition base camp in China, the team consisting of Henize, High Adventure's Harry Taylor and Nish Bruce, and paramedic Brian Tilley had begun their ascent to an advance camp on Monday, October 4, when Dr. Henize began to experience respiratory difficulty. When he did not respond to oxygen treatment, the team began to return to the base camp. Early in the morning of October 5th, Dr. Henize passed away in his sleep. In accordance with his prior request, he was buried on the mountain at the British base camp. A certificate of death was issued by the examining physician at the camp. The most likely cause of death was listed as "cerebral anoxia secondary to pulmonary edema".

- more -

- 2 -

Henize was an avid mountaineer who had accomplished a climb of Mt. Rainier in 1991. According to expedition officials, the team will return to France tomorrow.

Henize, who flew in space on the STS-51F mission in July and August, 1985, was to conduct an experiment using a device which was developed by NASA at the Johnson Space Center to measure levels of radiation. In this case the experiment was to measure the level of radiation reaching the Earth's surface at various altitudes during the climb. Data gathered by the experiment was to be shared by NASA and High Adventure.

The Tissue Equivalent Proportional Counter Spectrometer (TEPC) has also been used on several Shuttle missions, and will fly aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, next week.

Henize was born on October 17, 1926, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics and a master of arts degree in astronomy from the University of Virginia. He was awarded a doctor of philosophy degree in astronomy by the University of Michigan in 1954.

After an extensive career as a premiere astronomer, including three years as senior astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and as a professor in Northwestern University's Department of Astronomy, he was selected as a scientist-astronaut by NASA in August 1967. He was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 15 mission and for the Skylab missions. During the Spacelab-2 mission (STS-51F), Henize was responsible for testing and operating the instrument pointing system, operating the Shuttle's robot arm, and operating several scientific experiments.

In 1986, Henize accepted a position as Senior Scientist in the Space Sciences Branch at JSC where he has contributed extensively to the study of space debris and potential related hazards to the Space Station. Henize was presented the Robert Gordon Memorial Award for 1968 and received the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal in 1974.

Dr. Henize produced 75 technical papers on stellar objects during his career and discovered over 2000 stars in the southern hemisphere, designate by "HE" in star catalogues. Henize is survived by his wife Caroline, his four children Kurt, Marcia, Skye, and Vance, and his brother Wilson Henize.


- end -

text-only version of this release