Rhea’s Biography



On May 30, 2015, Rhea was the eighth woman inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame during a public ceremony held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor ComplexDr. Seddon was one of four astronauts selected for the 2015 AHOF. A veteran of three space shuttle flights, Dr. Rhea Seddon spent 19 years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In 1978 she was selected as one of the first six women to enter the Astronaut Program. She served as a Mission Specialist on flights in 1985 and 1991 and as Payload Commander in charge of all science activities on her final flight in 1993. This brought her total time in space to 30 days. After leaving NASA in 1996, Dr. Seddon was the Assistant Chief Medical Officer of the Vanderbilt Medical Group in Nashville for 11 years.

There she led an initiative aimed at improving patient safety, quality of care, and team effectiveness by the use of an aviation-based model of Crew Resource Management. Now with LifeWings Partners, LLC she teaches this concept to healthcare institutions across the United States. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in physiology, Dr. Seddon received her M.D. degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis, where she completed her residency in General Surgery.


April 2016

  • Athena International Leadership Award (Rutherford County)
  • Independent Book Publishers Association Ben Franklin Gold Award for Best Autobiography/Memoir – Go For Orbit

February 2016

  • National Football Foundation Nashville Chapter’s Fred Russell Distinguished American Award

October 2015

  • Induction into the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame

May 2015

  • Astronaut Hall of Fame Inductee – 2015

Professional Experience

Author: May 2015

  • Dr. Seddon released her first book, Go For Orbit the week prior to her Induction into the Astronaut Hall of Fame (May 2015). She had the privilege of presenting a copy of her memoirs to President Obama for his daughters week the following  the ceremony during a visit to the White House with husband fellow inductee Capt. Robert “Hoot” Gibson.

Speaker and Consultant: August 2007- Present
Partner, LifeWings Partners, LLC2005 – Present
Assistant Chief Medical Officer, Vanderbilt Medical Group1996- August 2007  

  • Co-leader, Crew Resource Management Project
  • Physician Director, Transfer Center
  • Physician Liaison, Utilization Management
  • New Faculty Training Committee
  • HIPAA Executive Committee
  • Executive Safety Council
Dr. Rhea Seddon

Dr. Rhea Seddon


National Aeronautics and Space Administration: 1978 – 1997

Flew aboard three space shuttle missions:

  • 1985 Discovery – STS 51D Mission Specialist
  • 1991 Columbia – STS 40 Spacelab Life Sciences 1 Mission Specialist
  • 1993 Columbia – STS 58 Spacelab Life Sciences 2 Payload Commander

Numerous technical assignments including:

  • In-flight medical operations
  • Helicopter search and rescue physician
  • Space Station Health Maintenance Facility
  • NASA Life Sciences Advisory Committee
  • NASA and International Bioethics Task Forces
  • Johnson Space Center Institutional Review Board

Emergency Room Physician (Part-Time in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Texas Hospitals): 1975- 1996
Pathology Prosector, Department of Pathology at the University of Tennessee, Memphis (Part-Time): 1972-1973
Surgical Scrub Technician Rutherford County Hospital, Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Summers): 1966- 1970



University of California, Berkeley (1965-70) Degree: BA, Physiology, June 1970
University of Tennessee College of Medicine (1970-73) Degree: M.D., December 1973
Middle Tennessee State University (2009-2010) Certificate in Creative Writing from The Writer’s Loft, August 2010


Professional Training

Internship (Straight Surgery), January – December 1974, Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee
Residency (General Surgery), July 1975 – June 1978, University of Tennessee Hospitals, Memphis, Tennessee
Coursework toward a Masters in Medical Management completed
Harvard Medical Simulation Comprehensive Workshop, August 2007



Your Cart