Henry Hartsfield was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and his mother, Mrs. Norma Hartsfield, resided there. He was married to the former Judy Frances Massey of Princeton, North Carolina, and has a daughter named Judy Lynn, born May 29, 1958. His younger daughter, Keely Warren, born on May 14, 1959, died on March 10, 2014.
Graduated from West End High School (Birmingham, Alabama); earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Auburn University in 1954, where he was a member of the Delta Chi Fraternity; performed graduate work in Physics at Duke University and in Astronautics at the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB; and was awarded a Master of Science degree in Engineering Science from the University of Tennessee in 1971.
Hartsfield received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Auburn University. He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1955, and his assignments included a tour with the 53rd Tactical Fighter Squadron in Bitburg, West Germany. He is also a graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and was an instructor there prior to his assignment in 1966 to the USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program as an astronaut. After the cancellation of the MOL program in June 1969, he was reassigned to NASA.
He has logged over 7,300 hours of flying time—of which over 6,150 hours are in the F-86, F-100, F-104, F-105, F-106, T-33, and T-38 jet aircraft.
Hartsfield became a NASA astronaut in September 1969. He was a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 16 and served as a member of the astronaut support crew for the Skylab 2, 3, and 4 missions.
Hartsfield retired in August 1977 from the United States Air Force with more than 22 years of active service but continued his assignment as a NASA astronaut in a civilian capacity. He was a member of the orbital flight test missions group of the Astronaut Office and was responsible for supporting the development of the Space Shuttle's entry flight control system and its associated interfaces.
Hartsfield served as backup pilot for STS-2 and STS-3, Columbia's second and third orbital flight tests. A three flight veteran, Hartsfield served as pilot on STS-4 in 1982, and was spacecraft commander on STS-41-D in 1984, and STS-61-A in 1985.
Hartsfield was the pilot on STS-4, the fourth and final orbital test flight of the shuttle Columbia, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 27, 1982. He was accompanied by Thomas K. Mattingly (spacecraft commander) on this seven-day mission designed to: further verify ascent and entry phases of shuttle missions; perform continued studies of the effects of long-term thermal extremes on the Orbiter subsystems; and conduct a survey of Orbiter-induced contamination on the orbiter payload bay. Additionally, the crew operated several scientific experiments located in the Orbiter's cabin as well as in the payload bay. These experiments included the Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System (CFES), designed to investigate the separation of biological materials in a fluid according to their surface electrical charge. The crew is also credited with effecting an in-flight repair which enabled them to activate the first operational "Getaway Special"—comprising nine experiments that range from algae and duckweed growth in space to fruit fly and brine shrimp genetic studies. STS-4 completed 112 orbits of the Earth before landing on a concrete runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on July 4, 1982.
Hartsfield was next spacecraft commander of STS-41-D which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on August 30, 1984. The crew included Mike Coats (pilot), Judy Resnik, Steve Hawley and Mike Mullane (mission specialists), and Charlie Walker (payload specialist). This was the maiden flight of the orbiter Discovery. During the six-day mission the crew successfully activated the OAST-1 solar cell wing experiment, deployed three satellites, SBS-D, SYNCOM IV-2, and TELSTAR 3-C, operated the CFES-III experiment, the student crystal growth experiment, and photography experiments using the IMAX motion picture camera. The crew earned the name "Icebusters" when Hartsfield successfully removed a hazardous ice buildup from the orbiter using the Remote Manipulator System. STS-41-D completed 96 orbits of the Earth before landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on September 5, 1984.
On his third flight, Hartsfield was spacecraft commander of Challenger on STS-61-A, the West German D-1 Spacelab mission which launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on October 30, 1985. His crew included Steven R. Nagel (pilot), James Buchli, Guy Bluford and Bonnie Dunbar (mission specialists), and Reinhard Furrer, Ernst Messerschmid, and Wubbo Ockels (payload specialists). The seven-day mission was the first with eight crew members, and the first Spacelab science mission planned and controlled by a foreign customer. More than 75 scientific experiments were completed in the areas of physiological sciences, materials processing, biology, and navigation. After completing 111 orbits of the Earth, STS-61-A landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on November 6, 1985. STS-61-A was the final successful flight of Challenger, as it was destroyed during the launch of its next mission, STS-51-L.
With the completion of this flight, Hartsfield has logged 483 hours in space.
Between 1986 and 1987, Hartsfield served as the Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office. In 1987, he became the Deputy Director for Flight Crew Operations, supervising the activities of the Astronaut Office and the Aircraft Operations Division at the Johnson Space Center.
In 1989, he accepted a temporary assignment in the Office of Space Flight at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. There he served as Director of the Technical Integration and Analysis Division, reporting directly to the Associate Administrator for Space Flight. In this assignment he was responsible for facilitating the integration of the Space Station Freedom and its unique requirements into the Space Shuttle systems. His office also served as a technical forum for resolving technical programmatic issues.
In 1990, Hartsfield accepted another temporary assignment as the Deputy Manager for Operations, Space Station Projects Office, at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. In that capacity he was responsible for the planning and management of Space Station Operations and Utilization Capability Development and operations activities including budget preparation. Later in that assignment he also acted as the Deputy Manager for the Space Station Projects Office.
In 1991, Hartsfield accepted the position of the Man-Tended Capability (MTC) Phase Manager, Space Station Freedom Program and Operations (SSFPO), with a duty station at the Johnson Space Center. Reporting directly to the Deputy Director, SSFPO, he represented the Deputy Director in providing appropriate program guidance and direction to the Space Shuttle Program, and across the Space Station Freedom Program for all MTC phase mission unique activities to assure appropriate resolution of issues.
In December 1993, Hartsfield accepted the position of Manager, International Space Station Independent Assessment. In this capacity he reported directly to the Associate Administrator for Safety and Mission Assurance and managed and focused the oversight activities and assessment of the International Space Station Program.
In September 1996, the scope of Hartsfield's work was expanded to include independent assessment of the programs and projects of the Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) Enterprise and he was named Director, HEDS Independent Assurance.
Hartsfield retired from NASA in 1998 and then joined the executive ranks of Raytheon Company as vice president of aerospace engineering services. He retired from Raytheon in 2005. He died on July 17, 2014, from complications from back surgery.Air Force Meritorious Service Medal
General Thomas D. White Space Trophy for 1973 (1974)
Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame (1983)
Distinguished Civilian Service Award (DOD) (1982)
NASA Distinguished Service Medals (1982, 1988)
NASA Space Flight Medals (1982, 1984, 1985)
NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1988)
Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Auburn University (1986)
Inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame (2006).