When Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on November 16, 2009, two astronauts were on board with connections to the University of Tennessee Space Institute. The pilot is USN Captain Barry “Butch” Wilmore who received an M.S. Aviation Systems from UTSI in 1994. The commander is U. S. Marine Col. Charles Hobaugh, a former UTSI Aviation Systems student.
Captain Barry Wilmore was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and grew up in Mt. Juliet, TN. He graduated from Mt. Juliet High School in 1961 in the top 10 percent of his class. He attributes his success to the education he received as a child, the team sports he participated in, and the discipline he received from the military. Five of his former high school coaches had the honor of being personally invited to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the shuttle launch. Wilmore said of his teachers and coaches, “Those are the ones that allowed your mind to develop, retain and go forward.” He stressed the importance of an education and says if you have to stay in school for twelve years you might as well make the most of it.
Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen said “Barry stands out as a role model for our Tennessee students, proving the stars are not beyond their reach”.
While in the U. S. Navy, Wilmore accumulated more than 5,900 flight hour and 663 carrier landings, all in tactical jet aircraft. He completed four operational deployments flying the A-7E and the FA-18 aircraft from the decks of the USS Forrestal, USS Kennedy, USS Enterprise and the USS Eisenhower aircraft carriers. He has flown missions in support of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Southern Watch in Iraq, as well as missions over Bosnia in support of U.S. and NATO interests. He completed 21 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. His most recent operational deployment was aboard the USS Eisenhower with the “Blue Blasters” of Strike Fighter Squadron 34 (VFA-34), an F/A-18 squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.*
Col. Charles Hobaugh was born in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 1961. He graduated from North Ridgeville High School, in Ohio in 1980, received a B.S. degree from Aerospace Engineering from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1984 and attended the University of Tennessee Space Institute from January 1993 to August 1994. He was selected for the 1996 Astronaut class.
Hobaugh was pilot of Atlantis STS-104 in July of 2001, and pilot of Endeavor’s STS-118 in August 2007. Prior to the Monday flight, he had already logged over 600 hours in space.
He received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps Naval Academy in May 1984. He graduated from the Marine Corps Basic School in December 1984. After a six month temporary assignment at the Naval Air Systems Command, he reported to Naval Aviation Training Command and was designated a Naval Aviator in February 1987. He then reported to Marine V/STOL Attack Squadron VMAT-203 for initial AV-8B Harrier Training. Upon completion of this training, he was assigned to Marine Attack Squadron VMA-331 and made overseas deployments to the Western Pacific at MCAS Iwakuni Japan and flew combat missions in the Persian Gulf during Desert Shield/Desert Storm embarked aboard the USS Nassau. While assigned to VMA-331, he attended Marine Aviation Warfare and Tactics Instructor Course and was subsequently assigned as the Squadron Weapons and Tactics Instructor. Hobaugh was selected for U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and began the course in June 1991. After graduation in June 1992, he was assigned to the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate as an AV-8 Project Officer and as the ASTOVL/JAST/JSF Program Officer. While there, he flew the AV-8B, YAV-8B (VSRA) and A-7E. In July 1994, he went back to the Naval Test Pilot School as an Instructor in the Systems Department, where he flew the F-18, T-2, U-6A and gliders. Hobaugh was assigned to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School when he was selected for the astronaut program.
He has logged over 5,000 flight hours in more than 40 different aircraft and has over 200 V/STOL shipboard landings.
The shuttle flight is carrying nearly 30,000 pounds of equipment and experiments to the International Space Station including a gyroscope and two Express Logistics Carriers and other spare parts for the international space station. Some of this equipment will be attached to the outside of the space station. Three space walks are scheduled during this mission by other crew members.