Piers Sellers (Piers John Sellers)

Piers Sellers

Piers Sellers was born in Crowborough, Sussex. His education started at Tyttenhanger Lodge Pre-preparatory School in Seaford, East Sussex, and Cranbrook School, Kent, from which he graduated in 1973 and where he was trained as a Royal Air Force cadet to pilot gliders and powered aircraft. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in ecological science from the University of Edinburgh and a doctorate in biometeorology from the University of Leeds. Sellers married the former Amanda Lomas, a nurse from Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, before they moved to the US. This marriage ended in divorce. In January 2016, he revealed that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Sellers died 23 December 2016 at the age of 61. Sellers appeared in the Leonardo DiCaprio-produced documentary film Before the Flood. Piers Sellers and his wife left the UK in 1982, moving to the United States, where he began his NASA career as a research meteorologist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Sellers’s work in the field of meteorology focused primarily on computer modelling of climate systems, but he maintained his aircraft pilot skills. Sellers began applying annually to become an astronaut in 1984, but his lack of US citizenship was a problem. In 1991 he became a naturalised citizen of the United States. Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Sellers reported to the NASA Johnson Space Center in August 1996. He completed two years of training and evaluation and was initially assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Computer Support Branch, followed by service in the Astronaut Office Space Station Branch. During that time, he worked part-time in Moscow as a technical liaison on ISS computer software. Sellers logged over 559 hours in space, including almost 41 EVA hours in 6 spacewalks. He retired in 2011.

STS-112 Space Shuttle Atlantis (7–18 October 2002) was an International Space Station assembly mission during which the crew conducted joint operations with the Expedition-5 in delivering and installing the S-One Trussb (the third piece of the station’s 11-piece Integrated Truss Structure). To outfit and activate the new component, Piers Sellers performed three spacewalks and logged a total of 19 hours and 41 minutes of EVA. The crew also transferred cargo between the two vehicles and used the shuttle’s thruster jets during two manoeuvres to raise the station’s orbit. STS-112 was the first shuttle mission to use a camera on the External Tank, providing a live view of the launch to flight controllers and NASA TV viewers. The mission was accomplished in 170 orbits, travelling 4.5 million miles in 10 days, 19 hours, and 58 minutes. STS-121 Space Shuttle Discovery (4–17 July 2006) was a return-to-flight test mission and assembly flight to the International Space Station. During the 13-day flight, the crew of Discovery tested new equipment and procedures that increased the safety of space shuttles, and produced never-before-seen, high-resolution images of the Shuttle during and after its 4 July launch. The crew also performed maintenance on the space station and delivered and transferred more than 28,000 pounds of supplies and equipment, and a new Expedition 13 crew member to the station. Sellers and Mike Fossum performed three EVAs to test the 50-foot robotic arm boom extension as a work platform. They removed and replaced a cable that provides power, command and data and video connections to the station’s mobile transporter rail car. They also tested techniques for inspecting and repairing the reinforced carbon-carbon segments that protect the shuttle’s nose cone and leading edge of the wings. The STS-121 mission was accomplished in 306 hours, 37 minutes and 54 seconds. STS-132 Space Shuttle Atlantis (14–26 May 2010) was an International Space Station assembly mission. The primary payload was the Russian Rassvet Mini-Research Module along with an Integrated Cargo Carrier-Vertical Light Deployable (ICC-VLD). This was the final scheduled mission of Atlantis. Piers Sellers took a 4-inch long wood sample of Sir Isaac Newton’s apple tree—a piece from the original tree that supposedly inspired Newton’s theory of gravity—along with a picture of Newton. The wood is part of the collection of the Royal Society archives in London, and was returned there following the flight. He also took an original watercolor portrait of Cranbrook School painted by Brenda Barratt.

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  • April, 11, 1955
  • United Kingdom
  • Crowborough, Sussex, England


  • December, 23, 2016
  • USA
  • Houston, Texas

Cause of Death

  • pancreatic cancer

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