Served as an attack pilot with the fleet Squadron VA-72, flying the A-4 Skyhawk on the aircraft carrier USS Independence from June 1962 to November 1964.
Assigned to Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California, from 1964 to 1966, first as a student then as an instructor.
Assigned as an Air Force astronaut to the second group of aerospace research pilots for the Manned Orbiting Laboratory program in 1966. When the project was canceled in June of 1969, Crippen became an astronaut with NASA.
Participated in the Skylab Medical Experiment Altitude Test and served as a capsule communicator with the astronaut support crew for Skylab 2, 3, and 4 missions, as well as for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission.
Pilot of STS-1, the first orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia, the world’s first reusable spacecraft.
Spacecraft commander of Challenger STS-7, STS-41C, and STS-41G.
Became deputy director in 1986 for the Space Shuttle Operations for NASA Headquarters at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Entered government service as the Space Shuttle director at NASA Headquarters in Washington D. C.
Became Director of the Kennedy Space Center in 1992 where he managed processing, launch, and recovery of all Space Shuttle missions.
Has flown more than twenty types of aircraft accumulating more than 6500 hours, with over 5500 in jet aircraft.