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Astronaut Candidates 2004: | Home
Behind the ScenesAstronaut Candidate Class of 2004 Behind the ScenesTrainingSonny Carter Training Facility
Shane Kimbrough
IMAGE: Astronaut Candidate Shane Kimbrough
2004 Astronaut Candidate Robert Shane Kimbrough is an Army major.
Astronaut Candidate Interview:
Robert Shane Kimbrough

Q: R. Shane Kimbrough, mission specialist candidate. Congratulations.

A: Thank you.

Tell me about what it was like to get the news that you'd been picked to start training as an astronaut.

I had a lot of emotions, as you can imagine. I was obviously very thrilled to get the call. I felt very honored to be even associated with the group of astronauts that are already here and that have gone before me. I also felt very fortunate to be in the group. Knowing the people I interviewed with, the quality of those folks, as well as the other 99 that were interviewed, I just feel very lucky and fortunate to be here. I also feel a bit relieved. It's been kind of a long path to get here. It kind of validated the hard work and the decisions I've made along the way to get here.

Your background is all Army, starting off with being the son of a soldier. Fill me in on some of the steps in your career and how that's influenced your desire to be part of the space program.

As a kid, I grew up seeing most of the launches. My grandparents lived near the Cape, so in the summer, I spent a lot of summers down there. That's kind of where my interest started. I wouldn't say it took off until I was a few years in the Army myself. I met an Army astronaut and decided hey, I kind of want to go that route. From there I went to flight school, which kind of was a way to get here, I thought. And a few other things along the way that a normal Army astronaut would do to get to this place, graduate school, and taught up at West Point. I had a great time doing that. Throughout my Army career, I've just been around wonderful people and that's kind of the bottom line for any great job, is the people you work with.

You and your astronaut classmates should be the folks who are on the missions that are going to bring the vision for space exploration to life. It's you folks who are going to be going to the moon and learning how we go on from there. What's your philosophy about the future of humankind moving off of the planet and the role you're going to get to play in that?

I think it's absolutely necessary for us as a society to take these steps. The things we've learned already just by being about 250 miles away. And the advances we've brought back, technology-wise to the Earth, have been wonderful. I think that will continue to grow as we get farther and farther away. The role I play, who knows what that's going to be. I'm really excited to be a part of the vision, which obviously first of all is just to get the Shuttles flying again and return to flight. And hopefully we can work and help in that effort and then finish the International Space Station. From then, maybe the moon and Mars. So, however I can be of assistance will be great.

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

Well, I want to tell any kid doing anything to do your best. Regardless of what your ambitions are, education obviously is a huge part of a kid's life, and should be hopefully through college. But whatever you're doing, do your best. None of us got here by not doing that. Most of the people who are leading big companies are the same way. So whatever you're going to do, just do the best thing you can. I was lucky to be a math teacher at West Point, so I have a unique relationship in knowing what students, how they kind of think. I think there's a big gap between some math and science issues and the general youth these days. It's imperative that the teachers, who all of us are now, kind of bridge that gap with applications that apply to everybody's life.

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