Astronaut Scott Parazynski to Keynote Challenger Center Dinner Nov. 10

September 27, 2013 Updated Nov 10, 2011 at 6:21 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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Astronaut Scott Parazynski to Keynote Challenger Center Dinner Nov. 10

September 27, 2013 Updated Nov 10, 2011 at 6:21 PM EDT

Allegany, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- Scott Parazynski, an astronaut, physician, inventor, mountaineer, pilot and public speaker, will be the keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center Celebration Dinner on Thursday, November 10.

The annual dinner, which is open to the public, follows last year's highly successful event that featured retired astronaut Col. Pamela Melroy as the guest of honor.

Festivities will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Premier Banquet Center, 2000 Constitution Ave. in Olean. A cocktail hour will precede the dinner at 5:30 p.m.

Cost is $40 per person. Patron tickets are available for $50 each. Corporate tables for parties of eight people are available for $500.

Parazynski has lived and traveled all over the world, spending many of his grade school and high school years in places such as Dakar, Senegal; Beirut, Lebanon; Tehran, Iran; and Athens, Greece. A graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Medical School, he went on to train at Harvard and in Denver in preparation for a career in emergency medicine and trauma. Parazynski is also a physiologist with expertise in human adaptation to stressful environments.

In 1992 he was selected to join NASA's Astronaut Corps and eventually flew five Space Shuttle Missions and conducted seven spacewalks (EVAs or Extravehicular Activities). In his 17 years as an astronaut, he served in numerous senior leadership roles, including EVA Branch Chief and the Lead Astronaut for Space Shuttle Thermal Protection System Inspection & Repair (in the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy). Mission highlights included a global ozone mapping mission on STS-66; leading the first joint US-Russian spacewalk during STS-86 while docked to the Russian space station Mir; serving as Senator John Glenn's crewmate and personal physician during STS-95; and conducting EVA assembly of the Canadian-built space station arm during STS-100.

In October 2007, Parazynski led the EVA team on STS-120, a highly complex space station assembly flight, during which he performed four EVAs. The fourth and final EVA is regarded by many as one of the most challenging and dangerous ever performed. During the EVA, he was positioned by a 90-foot robotic boom farther than any orbiting astronaut had ever ventured from the safety of their airlock. During this EVA he had to repair a fully energized solar array wing. The tremendous coordinated effort in orbit and on the ground by Mission Control and other engineering experts has been likened to the Space Shuttle and Space Station era's "Apollo 13 moment."

All told, Parazynski has spent over eight weeks in space with more than 47 hours outside on spacewalks. While he has traveled over 23 million miles in orbit he has yet to earn a single frequent flyer mile.

In addition to being a life-long SCUBA diver and accomplished mountaineer, Parazynski is also a commercial, instrument, multiengine and seaplane-rated pilot with over 2,500 flight hours. He began climbing in his teens, and has climbed in the Alaska Range, the Cascades, the Rockies, the Alps, the Andes and the Himalayas. On his second attempt to scale Mt. Everest, on May 20, 2009, he became the first astronaut to stand on top of the world. Additionally, as part of a NASA-sponsored expedition to the high Andes, he conducted a scientific dive in the summit caldera lake of 19,700-foot Licancabur volcano, the world’s highest lake.

Parazynski currently serves as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Medical Officer at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston, Texas, where he is helping a world class team of scientists and clinicians develop technologies that will one day reshape medical care around the world. He serves on the Boards of Directors of several organizations and companies, as well as on the visiting or adjunct faculty at several universities around the world.

He is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including: five NASA Spaceflight Medals, two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, two Vladimir Komarov Diplomas from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, two Flight Achievement Awards from the American Astronomical Association, the Aviation Week Laureate Award, the Ellis Island Family Heritage Award, Gold Medal from the American Institute of Polish Culture, and the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club. Additionally, he a member of the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame.

He has given keynotes and lectures all over the world, to audiences young and old.