Shepherd graduated 1971, the United States Naval Academy and received a bachelor's degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics. He then embarked on a military career in the Navy Seals. In 1978, he received a master's degree in mechanical engineering and a degree in ocean engineering from MIT.
Shepherd was selected in 1984 with the 10th group of NASA as an astronaut. In 1986, the NASA proved his training with the Navy Seals to be unexpectedly useful in that it was used in the rescue missions of the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded.
With the Space Shuttle Atlantis Shepherd began as a mission specialist on 2 December 1988 on mission STS - 27th The main objective of this mission was exposing the military reconnaissance satellite Lacrosse 1
On October 6, 1990, aboard the space shuttle Discovery on mission STS -41. During this mission, the then heaviest payload, the Ulysses space probe has been suspended. Ulysses is a joint project of NASA and ESA to explore the sun.
With the Space Shuttle Columbia Shepherd launched on 22 October 1992 on mission STS - 52. The main objective of this mission was the exposure of the Italian-American geodesy satellites LAGEOS 2
1993 Shepherd went on for almost three years to the NASA Headquarters as a technical consultant for the International Space Station (ISS). On 31 October 2000 he launched with Soyuz TM -31 as commander of the first long-term occupation along with Russian cosmonauts Gidzenko and Krikaljow to the ISS. Their main task was the activation of the main systems of the space station. In addition, new appliances were installed, eliminates errors and performed the first scientific work. After more than 140 days on the ISS he finally returned on 21 March 2001 with the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS -102) back to Earth.
According to the NASA
Shepherd left the U.S. space agency in the summer of 2002 and was awarded the following year with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. He is married to the Texan Beth Stringham, who worked as a physiotherapist at NASA.