Linda Godwin


Linda Godwin grew up in the Bootheel, but she saw the world from a different view: outer space!   She rose through the ranks of NASA quickly to become one of  our country’s greatest astronauts.

Location of Jackson in MissouriTHE EARLY YEARS

Linda Godwin was born on July 2, 1952, in Cape Girardeau and grew up in nearby Jackson where she graduated from Jackson High School in 1970. She stayed close to  home through her college years, attending Southeast Missouri State University.  She graduated in 1974 with a degree in mathematics and physics. Her next stop  was the University of Missouri–Columbia, where she attained a master’s degree  and a doctorate in physics.

While studying at Mizzou, she took on the additional responsibilities of teaching  physics to undergraduate students and taking part in research projects. She conducted research in low-temperature solid-state physics, which included studies in electron tunneling and vibrational modes of absorbed molecular species on metallic substrates at liquid helium temperatures. It took a brilliant mind to understand and master the principles of complex physics. Her research was published, which established her as a force to be reckoned with in the field of science, mathematics, and physics before she was even out of her twenties.


Dr. Godwin completed her doctorate at the University of Missouri in 1980 at the age of twenty-eight. That same year she joined NASA in the Payload Operations Division. Her climb within the space agency was steady and impressive. A mere five years after joining the space operations, she was selected as an astronaut candidate. One year later, she graduated to the official title of “Astronaut.”  She worked in a number of capacities on the ground for NASA before getting called to space in 1991 on the Space Shuttle Atlantis.


Godwin’s first role on a space shuttle flight was as a mission specialist. As a mission specialist, she conducted experiments in orbit and worked on the International Space Station. She took part in four space flights, including Space Shuttle Mission No. 76 in 1996, where she took part in a docking mission with the Mir Space Station.

Her space flight in 2001 marked a milestone for space flight, as the crew of Mission No. 108 took part in the twelfth shuttle visit to the International Space Station. In this flight, the crew circled the earth 185 times, traveling 4.8 million miles in just a matter of days.

Dr. Godwin’s incredible performance with the space agency has earned her a number of prestigious honors, including the NASA Outstanding Performance Rating, the Sustained Superior Performance Award, and the Outstanding Leadership Award. These are big honors for a small town girl from the Bootheel.


*The Linda Godwin Center for Science and Mathematics at Southeast Missouri State University is named in her honor.

*Godwin has spent over thirty-eight days in space, including over ten hours outside the shuttle on a pair of space walks.

*Dr. Godwin married fellow astronaut Steve Nagel.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Famous People From the Show Me State