A Middle Tennessean’s journey to space with NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore

Above: Barry Wilmore (left) and Shuttle Take-Off (right) – Credit: NASA

The Boeing Starliner had a successful launch on Wednesday, June 5, 2024, and arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) today. Aboard the shuttle were astronauts Sunita “Sunny” Williams and Barry “Butch” E. Wilmore. Williams is from Needham, Massachusetts, while Wilmore has strong roots in Tennessee, having been born in Murfreesboro and raised in Wilson County.

NASA astronauts Wilmore and Williams will be assigned to fly the Starliner and the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station, according to NASA. The duo will remain in the orbiting laboratory for about two weeks to evaluate the new spacecraft and its systems before returning to Earth in the western United States.

More about TN Native Butch Wilmore – NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” E. Wilmore is a retired United States Navy captain who served as a test pilot and flight instructor. Wilmore joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 2000, bringing with him a wealth of experience from his military career. Born in Murfreesboro, he grew up in Mount Juliet, Wilson County, where he was raised by his parents, Faye and Eugene Wilmore. He graduated from Mount Juliet High School and later married Deanna, a native of Helenwood, Tennessee. The couple have two daughters.

Wilmore’s distinguished Navy career includes more than 8,000 flight hours and 663 carrier landings in tactical jet aircraft. He is an alumnus of the US Naval Test Pilot School and participated in operations such as Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Southern Watch over Iraq, as well as missions over Bosnia. He first flew to the ISS as a NASA space shuttle pilot in 2009 and returned in 2014 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Wilmore earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee Technological University (Tennessee Tech). Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham praised Wilmore’s character and achievements and emphasized his pride in the astronaut’s achievements. Wilmore also excelled in collegiate sports, playing football for Tech’s Golden Eagles and being inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame. In 2018, he received the prestigious NCAA Teddy Roosevelt Award, in recognition of his distinguished achievements and national reputation.

Wilmore continued his education and earned a Master of Science degree in aeronautical systems from the University of Tennessee. UT Knoxville recently featured him in an article celebrating his career and contributions to space exploration.

To date, Barry Wilmore has spent 178 days in space and completed four spacewalks. A Tennessee native and former college football player, Wilmore’s journey from Murfreesboro to the ISS is remarkable and to this day he continues to inspire many with his dedication to excellence.

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