The University of Tennessee Space Institute has helped nurture the careers of ten astronauts thanks to degree offerings ranging from aviation systems to flight testing.
Although UTSI is located in Tullahoma, Tennessee, it is technically part of the College of Engineering in Knoxville.
One particular astronaut took advantage of UTSI’s distance learning opportunities before giving new meaning to the term distance himself.
Scott Kelly was able to complete his degree from the institute while still in the Navy before becoming a successful NASA astronaut.
Kelly has spent more time in space than any other American—more than 520 days—across two shuttle and four International Space Station missions.
His final mission was the joint NASA/Russian Space Agency “year in space” project.
During that mission, Kelly conducted long-term experiments on the effects of space on the human body, chatted with students, and conducted a Tonight Show segment.
After his return, Kelly spoke about the hardships of his time in space, including physical detriments like radiation exposure, swollen legs, and skin irritability, the mental aspects of being away from loved ones that long, and oddities such as how he’d grown two inches taller since leaving Earth thanks to the zero gravity of space.