Major Donald West
Full name: Donald West
Birth date: July 24, 1973
Birth place: New York City
Height: 6 feet
Weight: 160 pounds
Eyes: Hazel Hair: Dark brown
Rank: Major, United States Space Corps
Interests/hobbies: Flying, cars, contact sports, boxing
Don was born the sixth child of Colonel Mark West, a retired Air Force pilot. He had a "normal" childhood, and received above average grades at Robert C. Ingersoll High School in Brooklyn, New York.
He was bored with classroom work, however, and was far happier playing sports, such as football, baseball and basketball. At an early age, he developed a love of aircraft, and he earned his pilot's license at the age of 18.
Fascinated by the U.S. space program, and by the incredible advances in space travel technology discovered in the early 1980s, he decided to apply to the Air Force Academy. With the help of his congressman, Don was accepted into the Academy in the fall of 1991. He immediately received the rank of second lieutenant, since he had completed two years of ROTC training in high school.
Don completed the regular training required by the Academy (and his bachelor of science degree) in a special three-year program designed for officers seeking entrance into the United States Space Corps. He was assigned to the USSC Pilot Training Center in Houston, Texas. "Lieutenant West displayed his incredible flying abilities both in simulators and advanced jet trainers at the center, and the combination of aviation skill and high grades allowed for a rapid promotion to captain in 1995, at the age of 22."
Don and 19 other trainees were chosen as pilots for the Alpha Centauri colonization program in 1994, "barely a year after the destruction of the Jupiter 1 and the death of the crew and passengers."
Don met Judy Robinson during his first semester of the astronaut training program. "When time permitted, Don had always dated, and with his sharp wit and good looks, he had few problems in finding companionship." But despite a five-year age difference, he found himself very attracted to Judy, and the two began spending most of their free time together.
Some of the other pilots thought that Don, who had a reputation as a "go getter," was using Judy to get the assignment as Jupiter 2 mission pilot. John Robinson didn't believe that this was true, but rumors began to circulate at the training center that the Robinsons were unfairly favoring Don for the assignment. This put a strain on John and Don's relationship, which wasn't resolved until the first few weeks on Priplanus. Also, Maureen Robinson was not comfortable at first about Don and Judy's relationship: "Judy was inexperienced and had led a sheltered life, and Don's reputation with women on the USSC campus, while not entirely deserved, did not sit well with Maureen."
Despite these difficulties, the Robinsons chose Don as their pilot for the Jupiter 2 mission. John felt that he was the best man for the job, and the decision was announced on June 2, 1997. Don was promoted to Major by the time of the Jupiter 2's launch, on October 16, 1997.