Tag Archives: USNA

Astronauts Return to USNA

Astronauts Return to USNA

Wonder what some astronauts do after they aren’t flying in space anymore? Check out this article originally from the Baltimore Sun (also ran in the Houston Chronicle a week later) about a few Navy guys….

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Astronauts Everywhere They Turned…

In case you haven’t noticed the Military has some really cool traditions. One of them is a Dining Out.

The “official” definition of this event is 
Dining in is a formal military ceremony for members of a company or other unit, which includes a dinner, drinking, and other events to foster camaraderie and esprit de corps.
You’ll notice that definition is called a Dining In… there’s just 1 difference between a Dining In & Dining Out – In means no spouses/dates and Out means these people are allowed. (So you can see why I personally am a bigger fan of the Out 🙂
Wikipedia Definition

Ken and I made it our mission about a year ago to bring the Dining Out tradition back to NASA at the Aircraft Operations Division (AOD). Upon arriving here at the US Naval Academy we realized that this place was in need of a REAL Dining Out as well! We had to determine how to scope it and wether we would actually be allowed to do it. Luckily it worked out that we could do it and we held a Dining Out for the Aerospace Engineering Department & VTNA (Flying team) Class of 2013. It was a seniors only event with all the wonderful traditions of a Dining Out such as the Parading of the Beef, grog, Mr. Vice, Mr President (Ken), levying of “fines” etc.

So why do you as space fans care about this? Well let me tell you – many astronauts who have flown in space have been military (not that you have to be there are lots of civilians too!) and there have been quite a few who attended the Naval Academy. We decided for this Dining Out we wanted to bring as many really interesting people as we could to attend and just engage with the students (and adults!) who were attending the event. As it turns out – almost everyone who was asked if they wanted to attend as a special guest said YES right away. (We even had folks fly in from out of town.) So it was a great privilege for everyone to get to share their Dining Out with not only 5 different astronauts but also more than a dozen incredibly talented pilots as well. It made for a great evening of story-telling and inspiration!
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USNA Astronaut Convocation

Every year the US Naval Academy does an Astronaut Convocation – given that there are MANY MANY astronauts who have graduated from USNA they are never at a loss for interested individuals to come back and speak to the students (Midshipmen) here. I say here because I am now fortunate enough to be a resident at the US Naval Academy for the next couple years while Ken works as the Chairman of the Aerospace Engineering Department and the Senior Aviator at USNA. (It’s nice that I can work from anywhere I have an internet connection and a nearby airport!)

The 2013 convocation was held this past Monday and while I know it was a great treat for everyone here it was an especially great treat for me to get to see some friends that quite frankly I don’t get to see often enough due to all our busy schedules.

The actual convocation consisted of

  • General Charlie Bolden (NASA Administrator) as the Moderator
  • Bob Cabana (Director of Kennedy Space Center)
  • Michael “LA” Lopez-Alegria (President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation)
  • Steve “Steve-o” Bown (Still at NASA in astronaut office)
  • Frank Culbertson (Executive Vice President at Orbital)

Obviously all these folks have flown to space throughout the years though most have moved on to other jobs. They are also all graduates of the Naval Academy. They spoke about the future of Human Spaceflight and it was a riveting talk to say the least. I even learned all sorts of new stuff that I didn’t know about!


I’ve been fortunate enough to work with all these guys during my time at NASA. (In fact Frank was the Commander of the first ISS Mission that I was heavily involved in from Mission Control- Expedition 3 & I was a lead instructor LA for his first ISS flight – Expedition 14. I did odds and ends of training for the others too.) So it was also great to catch up with them.

ImageIn addition to the actual panel of astronauts there was another half a dozen in the audience – Kay HIre, Ken Reightler, Ken Ham (obviously) as well as a few more. Everywhere you turned there was someone there who had been in space – how inspiring is that?!?!?

The definite theme of the night was that the students they were speaking to ARE the future of space travel… as are all of you who are out there reading this! Here’s to hoping one of you will be who gets to go to Mars!


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