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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 21:21 EDT

Kevin Ford

Kevin Ford is a former United States Air Force Colonel and a NASA astronaut. He was born Kevin Anthony Ford on July 7, 1960 in Portland, Indiana. He graduated from Blackford High School in Hartford City, Indiana in 1978, and went on to continue his education at the University of Notre Dame, where he was distinguished graduate of Detachment 225, Reserve Officer Training Corps, and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering in 1982. Immediately after his graduation, Ford was commissioned as a second lieutenant and reported to Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi to begin pilot training. After his completion in 1984, he was assigned to the 22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bitburg Air Base in Germany, and then in 1987, he was moved to the 57th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Keflavik Naval Air Station in Iceland. In 1989 he intercepted and escorted 18 Soviet combat aircrafts over the North Atlantic as well as earned his Master of Science degree in international relations from Troy State University, and in 1990 he was a student at the United States Air Force Test Pilot School at  Edwards Air Force Base, California. From 1991-1994, Ford flew test missions in the F-16 Fighting Falcon with the 3247th Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and earned his Master of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Florida at the same time. Ford then spent three years as a doctoral candidate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and earned his Ph.D. in astronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He was subsequently assigned to the Air Force Test Pilot School where he was the Director of Plans and Programs and taught academics and flight test techniques in the F-15, F-16, and gliders.

In July 2000, Ford was chosen to be a NASA astronaut candidate. After he finished his training and evaluation, he worked on advanced exploration issues in the Astronaut Office Advanced Vehicles Branch and on development and test of the Shuttle Cockpit Avionics Upgrade in the Space Shuttle Branch. From January 2004 to January 2005, Ford worked as Director of Operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. In June 2008, he retired from the Air Force, and the following year, on August 28, 2009, Ford was launched into space for the first time. He piloted the STS-128 aboard Space Shuttle Discovery, which carried the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo to the International Space Station. During the mission, the crew performed three spacewalks and carried out multiple experiments. On September 11, 2009 Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base, which was the last time a shuttle landed there.

Ford currently trains for and works space missions as a Space Station CAPCOM in the Mission Control Center, and is married with two children. Ford has received many honors and awards throughout his career, including the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

Image Caption: Astronaut Kevin A. Ford, pilot. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia

Kevin Ford