LOREN ACTON for Montana House District 69

Vital Statistics

Born in Lewistown on March 7, 1936, Loren Acton attended a one-room country school until the 7th grade when his Dad sold the ranch and they moved to Billings. There he attended junior high and high school and was active in the youth group of the Church of the Air. After a year of bible school at Multnomah in Portland, Loren entered Montana State College in Bozeman. While attending Montana State, he met and married Evelyn Oldenburger at Grace Bible Church. Their marriage has been blessed with a daughter, Cheryll, and a son, Stanley. Their one grandchild, Rosa Ramona, just turned ten in 2006.

After an absence of 34 years Loren and Evelyn returned to the Gallatin Valley in 1993 when Loren accepted a research professorship at MSU. The Actons are members of the Bozeman United Methodist Church.

Growing Up in Montana

This excerpt from the book Montana Folks provides details of Loren's life and spaceflight not covered below.

Young Rancher and Calf Growing up on a ranch in Montana teaches a young boy many things. Most of those things have to do with responsibility. From the day he can begin to take care of his own animals, he learns that he is part of a team, and everyone has to work together if the team is to succeed.
Young Rancher


Going to school in Montana during the '50's was a great opporunity and an experience that may be lost to Montana children unless we can again make our schools among the best in America. Loren had good teachers - in elementary school, in high school, and in college - and the cost was such that everyone willing to work could afford an education.

Physics Building, 1956 Montana State College was a great school then; it's still great but it's about four times bigger, and ten times more expensive. A lot of young people were attracted to science and engineering because those were the days when science seemed to be the key to the future. There seemed no bounds to what could be accomplished.
MSU Physics Building in 1956

Graduating from Montana State College in 1959 with a degree in Engineering Physics opened up a new world of opportunity for Loren. From there it was on to the University of Colorado to continue graduate studies. The Russians and Americans had just begun to launch satellites into space, where they could observe phenomena that were undreamed of before space flight. A totally awesome and unexpected view of the universe emerged!

Observation of x-rays from the Sun seemed an promising field for this young scientist. Next to the Earth we live on, the Sun is, to us, the most important object in the Universe. Everything on earth — our atmosphere, our weather, our oceans, all life — ultimately depends on the sun. In these days when droughts, storms, and global warming are in the news every day, understanding the sun becomes ever more vital to our very existance in a free, prosperous America.

In 1965 Loren's studies in Colorado were finished, with a PhD. thesis on the X-radiation of the Sun.

A Career in Space Science and Solar Astronomy

From Colorado it was on to California. During those exciting days there were hundreds of corporate research laboratories, all doing research that would have been beyond anyone's dreams only a few years before.

X-Ray Image of Sun Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratories in the heart of Silicon Valley is where Loren cast his lot. There, a brilliant band of scientists and engineers were doing pioneering space research and it was here that his NASA rocket experiment took his first of millions of pictures of the X-Ray sun.
X-Ray Image of Sun, Taken by Loren's
Experiment on the Japan/US/UK
Satellite Called "Yohkoh"

By 1993 it was time for a change. Doing research in an aerospace laboratory gave little opportunity for interactions with students and young scientists. An early retirement offer provided the chance to head home to Montana. His new job was a Research Professorship in the Physics Department at MSU. The subject of his research, the Sun, was the same as at Lockheed, but now there was the joy of working with students and young people just starting their careers in science.

Montana Astronaut

On July 29, 1985, Loren had the incredible experience of riding the space shuttle Challenger into space. He flew as a scientist. Payload Specialist is the NASA term for his job of operating the scientific experiments on an 8 day mission called Spacelab 2. The adventures of his mission are graphically described in the book Montana Folks which the authors have kindly permitted reprinting here.

Challenger Crew
The crew of the Challenger, 1985

Loren Acton Operating Scientific
On board the Challenger

Looking outward to the blackness of space, sprinkled with the glory of a universe of lights, I saw majesty - but no welcome. Below was a welcoming planet. There, contained in the thin moving, incredibly fragile shell of the biosphere is everything that is dear to you, all the human drama and comedy. That's where life is, that's where all the good stuff is.
Loren Acton, quoted from The Home Planet, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1988.

Home and Family

Loren and Evelyn treasure family, home life, the outdoors and our local community. Having been out-of-state for nearly 35 years makes being back in Montana all the sweeter. They relish the opportunity to participate in community events in Churchill, Manhattan, Three Forks and Willow Creek. The high school games they regularly attend are the ones involving the Tigers, the Eagles, the Wolves, or the Broncos.

Family Group Photo
Three Generations at Loren's 2006 Birthday Party

Loren and Evelyn in Beartooth
An Outing in the Beartooth Mountains

Evelyn in Kitchen
Evelyn Cooking Chicken Wings, Yum!

Loren and Tractor
Loren's Showing Off His
New (1948 Farmall Cub) Tractor

Community Service

Loren and Evelyn have always been active in church, school and community affairs. Since flying on the Challenger Loren has given literally hundreds of talks to schools and community groups all around the world. The picture below is a thank you from Lakeshore Elementary School in Vancouver, Washington, where Loren spoke to two 4th grade classes in June, 2006.

Loren and Lakeview School

Addressing Hungarian Parliament Now the time has arrived for Loren to take the big step in community service of offering to serve in elected public office.
Loren Acton Speaking at the Hungarian
Parliament in Budapest
about World Cooperation in Space

Loren with Governor
Loren and Our Governor

Created and Maintained by Volunteers for Loren Acton
P.O. Box 1207, Manhattan, MT 59741
Evelyn Oldenburger Acton, Treas.
(406) 599-6336