Two-Time Shuttle Payload Specialist Was 56
An astronomer and computer specialist who went on to fly on two
space shuttle missions has lost a three-year battle with brain
cancer. Former shuttle payload specialist Dr. Ronald A. Parise,
PhD, died at his home in Silver Spring, MD on Friday. He was
Parise was one of the developers of the Ultraviolet Imaging
Telescope, and used the device to study stars and other celestial
objects during shuttle missions in 1990 and 1995.
Born in 1951 in Warren, OH, Parise earned his amateur radio
license at age 11 and remained active in ham radio using the call
The Houston Chronicle reports as a teenager, he became active in
the Mahoning Valley Astronomical Society and built two telescopes.
He also learned to fly small aircraft, which his wife told the
paper became a life-long joy until his disease became advanced.
Parise also earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Youngstown
State University, and master's and doctorate degrees in astronomy
from the University of Florida.
In 1984, he became a NASA payload specialist, working on several
technical projects in addition to spending 614 hours in orbit
and traveling 10.6 million miles in space. Parise refined and
packaged a small ham radio station which could be used from the
shuttles, bringing the thrill of direct voice contact with an
orbiting astronaut to thousand of schoolchildren through SAREX, the
Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment. The program has been a public
relations bonanza for NASA.
After 12 years with NASA, Parise held several other space,
astronomy and computer-related jobs. He's survived by his wife, the
former Cecelia Sokol, whom he met at Youngstown State; a son,
Nicholas, who's in the Air Force; and a daughter, Katherine, who
lives in Silver Spring.
Services will be held at 10 am Friday at Resurrection Catholic
Church in Burtonsville, MD. The family requests that donations in
lieu of flowers be sent to Youngstown State University Foundation's
Dr. Ronald A. Parise Scholarship fund.