John Runco

John Runco – A Space Veteran and Planetary Scientist

John Runco is an eminent space veteran and former astronaut for NASA. He’s renowned for his work as an Earth and planetary scientist.

He served as the science and technology lead for both the International Space Station’s Destiny Module Science Window and Window Observational Research Facility (WORF), both of which he helped design.

Early Life and Education

Runco was born in the Bronx, New York. His family relocated to Yonkers when he was a teenager. During college, Runco attended City College of New York and Rutgers University.

Runco began his educational career after completing his education, beginning as a physical education teacher at Sisters Elementary School and later at Sisters High School. For 19 years now, he has been an integral part of the Sisters community.

He has long been an advocate of experiential teaching at the high school level. As one of the founding members of Interdisciplinary Environmental Expeditions (IEE), which integrates science, English and physical education, he gives students the chance to try out new activities like hiking, rafting or kayaking while building leadership skills and creating a sense of community. Through this program they gain invaluable life skills that they can apply in future endeavors.

Professional Career

John ran an impressive operation at Allegheny Ludlum Steel for thirty-five years, retiring as Manager of Industrial Engineering. He is an astute businessman and devoted family man – especially when it comes to his beloved wife of fifty-eight years, Patricia. He was a proud father to four and grandfather to six. On October 17, 2022 at 81 years old, his family mourned his passing: his beloved wife Joan C. Gentile Runco; daughter Jennifer A. Huber; grandchildren Anthony Jonathan Matthew and Theresa Rose. His family cherishes the time he spent with his grandchildren, which was truly a life-defining part of him. To honor his memory, donations may be made to either The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation or Runco Medical Center.

Achievements and Honors

John Runco is a veteran of three space shuttle missions, having spent over 551 hours in space including an EVA of 4.5 hours during STS-54. As a NASA astronaut, his flight operations and science achievements have earned him numerous awards and accolades.

He is responsible for overseeing the science and utilization of both the International Space Station’s Destiny Module Science Window and Window Observational Research Facility (WORF), both of which he helped design. One of his greatest successes is creating the Physics of Toys video game – an entertaining yet educational educational video game which debuted on IMAX big screens at Kennedy Space Center and is now available on DVD and online video game form. It has won multiple awards within both entertainment and interactive gaming industries.

Personal Life

Runco had the distinct pleasure of working on projects related to NASA’s space program during his tenure there. Additionally, he served as a research hydrologist with the United States Geological Survey.

He was a veteran of three space shuttle missions and had completed over 551 hours in space. He served as mission specialist on STS-44 in 1991, STS-54 in 1993 and STS-77 in 1996.

On his initial flight, Runco was part of the STS-44 crew which deployed a Defense Support Program satellite and conducted two Military Man-in-Space experiments. Later in 2012 he joined NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS-F), along with Diffuse X-ray Spectrometer on STS-54; during which fellow astronaut Gregory Harbaugh carried him during an EVA.

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