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Astronaut Candidates 2004: | Home
Behind the ScenesAstronaut Candidate Class of 2004 Behind the ScenesTrainingSonny Carter Training Facility
Jim Dutton
IMAGE: Astronaut Candidate Jim Dutton
2004 Astronaut Candidate Jim Dutton is an Air Force major.
Astronaut Candidate Interview:
James Dutton

Q: James P. Dutton, pilot astronaut candidate. Congratulations.

A: Thank you.

Tell me what it was like for you to get the news that you'd been picked to train to become an astronaut.

Amazing. I was out flying that morning actually. When I got back to my desk, there was a note on the computer, and it said to call Kent Rominger. We talked a little bit about my flight. And then he asked me if I was still interested in a job. I was pretty overwhelmed after wanting to do this since I was in grade school. To hear those words was amazing.

You're a graduate of the Air Force Academy, and you've got a history of assignments that in some respects, seemed to have been perfect training for becoming an astronaut. Tell me about your jobs in the Air Force and how you think they've helped you get prepared to be here today.

Well, I was an operational fighter pilot in the F-15. I served in England. Flew in the no-fly zone over Iraq a few times. And obviously, leading missions there was great preparation in terms of becoming a leader and understanding how to operate a system effectively. I went to test pilot school through the Air Force, and have since tested both in the F-16 and the newest fighter the Air Force has, the F-22. That has just been a tremendous experience to see how you develop new technologies.

You and your astronaut classmates are going to be involved in developing some new technologies because you're going to be the folks who are going to be on the missions that are bringing the vision for space exploration to life.


You are probably going to be the folks who are going to the moon and learning how we go on from there. Tell me about your philosophy of the future of humankind moving off of this planet and being one of the people that gets to do it.

I think it's what we're really called to do as humans. We've always been meant to be explorers and to push the boundaries of what we know and understand and where we've been. Personally, I just am very excited to be a part of that, to contribute to the development of the new vehicles that will take us there.

NASA has an important role to support and promote education. What do you want to tell young people about the role of education and science and math in the challenging work of space flight and being an astronaut?

Since I got this news, I've reflected a lot back on my own education and especially on the teachers I had growing up. And education is really a gift, I've come to realize. The teachers were there to help us. I just really encourage the kids to realize that and to help their teachers to help them and to take advantage of what they have in their education.

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