Michael L. Coats has logged more than 5,000 hours flying time in 28 different aircraft, and more than 400 carrier landings. He flew his first space shuttle flight as pilot of the maiden flight of Discovery. After overcoming the first pad abort of the shuttle program, Coats and his STS-41D crewmates deployed a prototype solar array and three satellites. Coats' second flight was also his first command, again aboard Discovery on mission STS-29. Only the third mission after the tragic loss of Challenger in 1986, Coats' crew deployed a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) and performed a space station "heat pipe" radiator experiment. After nearly five days and 3,000 photographs taken of the Earth, Coats landed the orbiter in California. Commander Coats flew his third and final Discovery flight, STS-39, in 1991 on an unclassified Department of Defense mission. He and his crew deployed, operated and retrieved the SPAS-II spacecraft and performed research of both natural and induced phenomena in the Earth's atmosphere. Coats left NASA to pursue opportunities in the private aerospace sector, holding management positions at Loral Space Information Systems and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, where he most recently was vice president of Advance Space Transportation. In November 2005, Coats was name director of Johnson Space Center.