James P. Dutton, pilot astronaut candidate. Congratulations.
A: Thank you.
me what it was like for you to get the news that you'd been picked
to train to become an astronaut.
was out flying that morning actually. When I got back to my desk,
there was a note on the computer, and it said to call Kent Rominger.
We talked a little bit about my flight. And then he asked me if
I was still interested in a job. I was pretty overwhelmed after
wanting to do this since I was in grade school. To hear those words
a graduate of the Air Force Academy, and you've got a history of
assignments that in some respects, seemed to have been perfect training
for becoming an astronaut. Tell me about your jobs in the Air Force
and how you think they've helped you get prepared to be here today.
Well, I was
an operational fighter pilot in the F-15. I served in England. Flew
in the no-fly zone over Iraq a few times. And obviously, leading
missions there was great preparation in terms of becoming a leader
and understanding how to operate a system effectively. I went to
test pilot school through the Air Force, and have since tested both
in the F-16 and the newest fighter the Air Force has, the F-22.
That has just been a tremendous experience to see how you develop
and your astronaut classmates are going to be involved in developing
some new technologies because you're going to be the folks who are
going to be on the missions that are bringing the vision for space
exploration to life.
are probably going to be the folks who are going to the moon and
learning how we go on from there. Tell me about your philosophy
of the future of humankind moving off of this planet and being one
of the people that gets to do it.
I think it's what we're
really called to do as humans. We've always been meant to be explorers
and to push the boundaries of what we know and understand and where
we've been. Personally, I just am very excited to be a part of that,
to contribute to the development of the new vehicles that will take
has an important role to support and promote education. What do
you want to tell young people about the role of education and science
and math in the challenging work of space flight and being an astronaut?
Since I got
this news, I've reflected a lot back on my own education and especially
on the teachers I had growing up. And education is really a gift,
I've come to realize. The teachers were there to help us. I just
really encourage the kids to realize that and to help their teachers
to help them and to take advantage of what they have in their education.