Prior to his retirement from NASA in January 2008, former astronaut Vance D. Brand served as acting Associate Director for Programs at NASA’s Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA. Prior to that assignment, Brand served as the center’s Acting Director and Deputy Director for Aerospace Projects. He also briefly served as Acting Chief Engineer after an assignment as Assistant Chief of Flight Operations at Dryden.
A recognized aerospace engineer and test pilot with almost 10,000 flying hours, Brand is perhaps best known as for his career as a NASA astronaut. One of the 19 pilot astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966, Brand initially was a crewmember in the thermal vacuum chamber testing of the prototype Apollo command module and a support crewman on Apollo 8 and 13. Later he was backup command module pilot for Apollo 15 and backup commander for Skylabs 3 and 4. As an astronaut he held management positions relating to spacecraft development, acquisition, flight safety and mission operations.
Brand flew on four space missions. He was Apollo command module pilot on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission in 1975. This flight resulted in the historic meeting in space between American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. Brand later commanded space shuttle flights STS-5, STS-41B, and STS-35 in 1982, 1984 and 1990 respectively. He has logged 746 hours in space. After leaving the Astronaut Office in 1992, Brand became Chief of Plans at the National Aerospace Plane (NASP) Joint Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, OH. He transferred to NASA Dryden in 1994.
Brand graduated from Longmont High School, Longmont, CO, then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business from the University of Colorado in 1953. He then served with the U.S. Marine Corps as a commissioned officer and naval aviator from 1953 to 1957, including a 15-month tour in Japan as a jet fighter pilot. Brand then returned to college, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Colorado in 1960.
Employed as a civilian by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation from 1960 to 1966, he worked initially as a flight test engineer on the Navy’s P3A aircraft. In 1963, Brand graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and was assigned as an experimental test pilot on Canadian and German F-104 programs for Lockheed at Palmdale, CA. During this period, Brand earned a master’s degree in business administration from UCLA in 1964. Brand later worked at the West German F-104G Flight Test Center at Istres, France, as an experimental test pilot and leader of a Lockheed flight test advisory group.
Brand amassed some 9,669 flying hours in his career, which includes 8,089 hours in jets, 391 hours in helicopters, 746 hours in spacecraft, and checkout in more than 30 types of military aircraft.
He has received numerous honors during his lengthy career, including NASA Distinguished Service Medals (1975 and 1992); NASA Exceptional Service Medals (1974 and 1988); Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) Yuri Gagarin Gold Medal (1976); University of Colorado Alumnus of the Century (1 of 12) (1976); Harmon Trophy (Astronaut) (1993); NASA Space Flight Medals (1983, 1984, 1992); International Space Hall of Fame (1996); U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame (1997); International Aerospace Hall of Fame (2001), Meritorious Executive, U.S. Senior Executive Service (1997), and honorary doctor of science degree from the University of Colorado (2000).
He is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Society of Experimental Test Pilots and American Astronautical Society. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas and a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity.