Born 1 February 1961 in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, USA but considers Lombard, Illinois, USA to be his hometown. Married to the former Jane Egan from Cork, Ireland. They have two children. He enjoys golf, flying, running, tennis, music, cooking.
Received Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984 and 1988, respectively.
Various US awards in Science and technology including an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Elmhurst College, Illinois, USA in 2003. Also received NASA spaceflight medal in 2001.
After Tani received his bachelor’s degree he worked at Hughes Aircraft Corporation in El Segundo, California USA as a design engineer in the Space and Communications group. On his masters degree he specialised in human factors and group decision making. After graduation, Tani worked for Bolt Beranek and Newman in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA in the experimental psychology department.
In 1988, Tani joined Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia, USA initially as a senior structures engineer, and then as the mission operations manager for the Transfer Orbit Stage. In that role, he served as the flight operations lead, working with NASA Johnson Space Center mission control in support of the deployment of the ACTS/TOS payload during the STS-51 mission in September 1993.
Tani then moved to the Pegasus programme at the Orbital Sciences Corporation as the launch operations manager. In that capacity, he served as lead for the development of procedures and constraints for the launching of the air launched Pegasus unmanned rocket. Tani also was responsible for defining, training, and leading the team of engineers who worked in the launch and control room.
Selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in April 1996, Tani reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1996. Having completed two years of training and evaluation, he qualified for flight assignment as a mission specialist in 1998. He held technical duties in the Astronaut Office Computer Support Branch, and EVA Branch and has served as a Crew Support Astronaut for Expedition 4.
In 2002, he was a crewmember on the Aquarius undersea research habitat for 9 days as part of the NEEMO-2 mission (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations). Tani then trained and qualified as the backup flight engineer for Expedition 11, which launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-6 in April 2005.
He took over as ISS Flight Engineer for Expedition 16 from Clayton Anderson after arriving at the ISS on the STS-120 mission. He took over as flight engineer for Expedition 16 from Clayton Anderson after arriving at the ISS on the STS-120 mission in October 2007. He has performed three spacewalks (a fourth is scheduled for 30 January 2008) and numerous robotic operations in support of the installation and checkout of Node 2 during his several months on the ISS, and will return on Shuttle Flight STS-122.
STS-108 (5-17 December 2001) was the 12th Shuttle flight to visit the International Space Station. During the mission, which exchanged the Expedition 3 for the Expedition 4 Crew and delivered almost 3 tonnes of supplies, logistics and science experiments in a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, Tani performed a 4 hour and 12 minute spacewalk to wrap thermal blankets around ISS Solar Array Gimbals.