HOFFMAN, JEFFREY (1944– ), U.S. astronaut. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Hoffman received his B.A. from Amherst College in 1966, a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Harvard University in 1971, and a master's degree in materials science from Rice University in 1988. He worked at the Center for Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as project scientist in charge of an orbiting hard X-ray and gamma ray experiment (1975–78).
Selected by nasa in 1978, Hoffman became an astronaut in 1979. He participated in five space missions – on the space shuttles Discovery (1985); the Columbia (1990); the Atlantis (1992); the Endeavor (1993); and again on the Columbia, on a 16-day mission (1996). On his first mission he made a four-hour space walk in an attempt to rescue a malfunctioning communications satellite; on the fourth mission he repaired the faulty Hubble Space Telescope; on his final mission, Hoffman became the first astronaut to log 1,000 hours aboard the space shuttle. With the completion of his fifth space flight, Hoffman had logged more than 1,211 hours and 21.5 million miles in space. Among his many honors, Hoffman was awarded the nasa Distinguished Service Medal in 1994 and 1997.
A dedicated Jew, Hoffman took into space a Scroll of the Law (a mezuzah) and a silver Torah pointer. On his fourth flight, he celebrated Hanukkah in orbit with a menorah and a dreidel.
He left the astronaut program in 1997 to become nasa's European representative in Paris, where he served until 2001. He then began to teach at mit, where he became a professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, teaching courses on space operations and design. He also engaged in several research projects using the International Space Station.
Hoffman was a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, the International Astronomical Union, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and co-director of the Massachusetts Space Grant Alliance.
In 1985, on his first space flight, Hoffman kept a personal audio diary on a tape recorder. It became a book titled Astronaut's Journal (1986).
[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]