Utahns have a special interest in Astronaut Mary Cleave, nicknamed the Princess of the Atlantis spacecraft. Cleve spent more than nine years in Utah, from 1971 to 1980. She earned both a master's degree, in 1975, and a doctorate, in 1979, from Utah State University in Logan and was one of the first women to earn a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering at USU.
She was a water research engineer at USU in 1980, bought at home nine miles south of Logan in Wellsville and was a board member and secretary of the Cache Valley Animal Protection League when she was selected as an astronaut trainee.Cleave's Wellsville neighbors and USU friends knew her as an athlete. She was a cross-country skier, exercised regularly, lifted weights and ran, sometimes eight miles a day.
She also, is by most accounts, rather diminutive. At 5 feet 2 inches tall and 103 pounds, she is the smallest person to use the new, heavy escape suit that astronauts must wear during launch and landing.
During the years she was a USU student, she worked as a waitress in a Chinese restaurant and as a cocktail waitress in Logan.
Since leaving Utah to become an astronaut trainee and finally a full-fledged astronaut, Cleave has returned to Utah many times to speak at USU, the University of Utah and at other functions.
In November 1985, she was aboard an earlier Atlantis space shuttle flight that orbited the earth 108 times. During that flight, she operated a remote controlled arm in cooperation with two other astronauts who worked on space construction experiments.
Cleave graduated from high school in Great Neck, N.Y., in 1965 and graduated from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, in 1969. She came to Utah in September 1971 and worked in the Ecology Center and the Utah Water Research Laboratory at USU until June 1980. Crazy about flight ever since she was a child, she says, she started flying at 14 and had a pilot's license at 17.