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Personal Space
Robert L. Curbean, Jr.Click for video

Job Title:
Commander, U.S. Navy
NASA Astronaut


March 5, 1962 (Pisces)

Married, two children

Childhood Dream:
To design rockets

Next Mission:
Launch: January 18, 2001

Atlantis (OV-104)

Mission Payload:
U.S. Laboratory

Mission Tasks:
3 Spacewalks
Robert L. Curbeam, Jr.
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Spacewalk Anyone?
Can one conversation change your life? It did for Robert Curbeam ("Beamer"), 38, a United States astronaut. Eight years ago, after speaking with astronaut Kathy Thornton, just back from a mission where she performed spacewalks, he got caught up in her enthusiasm. Astronaut on EVA"I decided right then and there, this is something that I want to experience," said Curbeam. He applied to NASA and was selected in December 1994. In early 2001, he'll be flying his second mission to space. The crew of Mission STS-98 will be some of the first visitors to the International Space Station (ISS) since it officially opened its doors as earth's new home off-planet.

Rocket Rider
Space Shuttle in FlightCurbeam didn't always plan on being an astronaut. In junior high, he and a friend spent hours after school designing airplanes, rockets, cars--mostly mechanical things. "We just loved science, and we thought the space program was just the most exciting thing in the aerospace field then. I never really thought that I would be the person climbing in someone else's design to go up to do the things I'll do." Hearing Curbeam's enthusiasm makes you want to suit up and go with him.

Ultimate Team Effort
Astronaut on EVA Astronauts are surprisingly normal people. They talk about how they're just part of a team; that flying to space is just part of their job. "It doesn't matter whether you're playing football or soccer, or whether you're on a business team trying to close a big deal you just want to do your best and live up to the standards which you hold yourself to and which your teammates expect of you. And if I can do that, I'll be a very, very happy guy when I come back," said Curbeam.

Houston, We've Got a Birthday!
There are advantages to being an astronaut. When Curbeam was away on a mission during daughter Eva's 9th birthday, he persuaded the Space Shuttle crew to sing "Happy Birthday" to her from 138 miles up. Going to space is by no means a typical business trip and keeping in touch with family is a bit different, too.

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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