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Astronaut Candidates 2004: | Home
Behind the ScenesAstronaut Candidate Class of 2004 Behind the ScenesTrainingSonny Carter Training Facility
Ricky Arnold
IMAGE: Astronaut Candidate Ricky Arnold
2004 Astronaut Candidate Ricky Arnold is a teacher from the American International School in Bucharest, Romania.
Astronaut Candidate Interview:
Richard Arnold

Q: Richard R. Arnold, educator mission specialist candidate. Congratulations. Tell me what it was like when you got the news that you were going to start training as an astronaut.

A: I was in Florida on a fishing trip with my father. Evidently, the selection office had trouble tracking me down. I received a rather frantic cell phone call from my wife saying you have to call Houston. They're looking to talk to you. And I spoke to Kent Rominger and he offered me the job, and I've pretty much been smiling ever since.

Most astronauts have a pretty varied background prior to their coming to start training as an astronaut. Yours says that you got your first college degree in accounting.

That's correct.

But then, seven years later, a masters in marine, estuarine, and environmental science. And then you went off and started teaching school all around the world.


Talk about how those interests led you here today as an astronaut candidate.

The interest in human space flight certainly goes back to my childhood, watching the Apollo missions on the moon. Watching those tapes of the first steps on the moon is still a thrill. The varied background professionally and education, I think reflects my love of learning. I think that extends to my experience teaching in different countries and different cultures. I think that's going to prepare me well for all the training and the schooling I have ahead before I become an astronaut.

And you're part of the first group of educator astronauts chosen to come here and train through a program that is designed to generate a new excitement for the nation's teachers and students in science, engineering and technology. Tell me how you see yourself and your fellow educator astronauts inspiring the next generation of explorers.

Well, we had a little ceremony at my school the day I left Romania. They announced that I had been selected and that I would be leaving. Judging by the enthusiasm of both the staff and especially the kids, I think the energy and enthusiasm is there. I think what the 11 of us will hopefully be able to provide is that personal connection. I think that's going to motivate a lot of kids.

You and your astronaut classmates should be the people who are on the missions that will bring the vision of space exploration to life.


You folks are the ones who are going to go to the moon and teach us how to move on from there. What's your philosophy about human beings moving off into the cosmos? And being such a prominent part of it?

If you look back at our history, I think it's inevitable. To be able to play a role in those next tentative steps, that's just a thrill. I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 07/15/2005
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