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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Aug. 30, 2022

Former astronaut returns to teach at U.S. Coast Guard Academy 

By David M. Santos, U.S. Coast Guard External Affairs 

Former astronaut, and retired Capt. Dan Burbank is returning to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to serve as a Professor of Practice in the Mechanical Engineering program.  

Burbank is one of two Coast Guard officers to have served as an astronaut. As a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions and one long duration mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS), he has logged a total of 188 days in space. 

Dr. Sharon Zelmanowitz, the Dean of Engineering and Cyber Systems at the Academy called Burbank, “a true innovator and a passionate educator who brings a wealth of experience to enrich our curriculum and engage in interdisciplinary research on resilience in challenging environments.” 

As a Coast Guard aviator, Burbank served at Coast Guard Air Stations in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Sitka, Alaska. He has logged over 4,000 flight hours and flown more than 2,000 missions, including over 300 search and rescue missions. 

NASA selected Burbank as an astronaut in 1996, and he completed two years of training and evaluation before being assigned to his first space flight assignment.  

He served as mission specialist aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis on two 12-day missions, STS-106 and STS-115, where he logged seven and a half hours of extravehicular activity (spacewalk) time. Later, he travelled aboard the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft to the ISS where he served as flight engineer for ISS Expedition 29 and as commander of ISS Expedition 30, which were long duration missions that began in November 2011 and ended in April 2012.  

Burbank is a native of Tolland, Connecticut, and graduated from the Coast Guard Academy as an Electrical Engineering major in 1985. He has a master’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and previously served as an engineering faculty member at the Academy from 2007 to 2009, where he taught astronomy, aerodynamics, and statics & engineering design.  

Most recently Burbank served as a professor and the Brigadier General Mick Erdle Endowed Chair in Engineering Science at the U.S. Air Force Academy from 2021 to 2022.  

“Returning to the academy to help train and educate the future leaders of the United States Coast Guard is a dream come true for me,” Burbank said.  “I’m proud to have been a part of this great service and especially happy to return ‘home’ to the Coast Guard.  These young women and men are brilliant and supremely talented and it’s inspiring to spend these important years with them as they prepare to build the Coast Guard of the future.  This is the best job on – or off – the planet!”