In September 2014, NASA astronaut and MABE alumnus Barry Wilmore launched to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. He returned to Earth in March. Just two weeks after Wilmore’s return from the ISS, fellow NASA astronaut and MABE alumnus Scott Kelly departed for the space station.
Wilmore is a 1994 graduate of the UT Space Institute (UTSI) where he received his master’s degree in aviation systems. He traveled to the space station with two Russian Federal Space Agency cosmonauts and served as a flight engineer for ISS Expedition 41 until he assumed command of ISS Expedition 42 in November.
During his six-month stay at the space station, Wilmore conducted experiments and completed three scheduled spacewalks. He also recorded a welcome address for high school students visiting UT as part of Engineer’s Day. His time in space was chronicled on the ISS Instagram account. This was Wilmore’s second visit to the space station. He piloted space shuttle Atlantis in 2009.
Kelly graduated from UTSI with his master’s degree in aviation systems in 1996, two years after Wilmore. In March, he also launched to the ISS from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Kelly will stay aboard the ISS for one-year, returning to Earth March 2016. According to NASA, this is the longest space mission that has been assigned to a NASA astronaut. He will be onboard the ISS from Expedition 43 through 46.
Kelly’s identical twin is former astronaut and current SpaceX consultant Mark Kelly. NASA will study them both while Scott is at the space station in order to learn more about the impact of spaceflight on the human body. They are the only siblings who have traveled to space.
Kelly was First Lady Michelle Obama’s guest at the State of the Union Address January 20, and he was featured on the cover of Time magazine’s December 29, 2014/January 5, 2015 double issue. This is Kelly’s fourth space flight.
Kelly and Wilmore are two of the nine current and former astronauts who are UTSI alumni.