UA’s first astronaut will speak on campus

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Contributed Report

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.-Col. James Kelly, who earned his Master of Science in aerospace engineering from The University of Alabama in 1996, will deliver a presentation about the recent Space Shuttle Discovery Return to Flight Mission on Nov. 10.

The program, presented by UA’sCollege of Engineering, will be at 7 p.m. in Morgan Auditorium on UA’s campus. The presentation is open to the public.

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Kelly served as pilot onSTS-114. During the Return to Flight mission, the crew tested and evaluated new procedures for flight safety, shuttle inspection and repair techniques. Discovery’s mission, which was the 114th flight of a space shuttle, also included carrying a multi-purpose logistics module, a replacement control moment gyroscope and the orbiter boom sensor system, which helped the astronauts inspect the Shuttle’s thermal tiles and panels.

Kelly, UA’s first astronaut, earned his master’s degree through UA’s video-based distance learning program QUEST, Quality University Extended Site Telecourses. His first trip to the campus in 1996 was for a special graduation ceremony where he was awarded his degree.

This was the second space mission for Kelly, who is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. Kelly was also the pilot onSTS-102 in March 2001 and has logged more than 643 hours in space. A former military test pilot, Kelly has logged more than 3,800 flight hours in over 35 different aircraft. More than 2,400 people applied for NASA’s 1996 astronaut class, and Kelly was one of 44 members and one of only 10 pilots selected.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became the first university in the state to offer engineering classes and was one of the first five in the nation to do so. Today, theCollege of Engineering has about 1,800 students and more than 95 faculty. It has been fully accredited since accreditation standards were implemented in the 1930s.