Terry W. Virts, Jr.

Terry W. Virts, Jr. is a Colonel in the United States Air Force and an active American astronaut.

Virts was born on December 1, 1967 in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, Massachusetts and graduated 1985. He enrolled in the United States Air Force Academy, where he graduated with honors in 1989, receiving his Bachelor of Science in mathematics. He then attended the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he once again graduated with honors in 1997, accomplishing his Master of Aeronautical Science. Reaching for an opportunity to be a part of an exchange program, Virts joined the Ecole de l’Air in 1988.

After his graduation in 1989 from the US Air Force Academy, Virts was assigned as a Second Lieutenant while earning his pilot wings at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona. After that, he proceeded to the Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico to complete his lead-in fighter training basics then more formal training with the 56th Tactical Fighter Wing at the Macdill Air Force base in Florida while working with the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Subsequently, Virts was ordered to the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida while later moving to the Moody Air Force base in Georgia. He then ventured outside of America when being assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea and the 22nd Fighter Squadron in Spangdahlem Air Base located in Germany. He was then chosen to attend Test Pilot School in 1997 at the Edwards Air Force Base established in California after which he took a role as an Experimental Test Pilot for the F-16 Combined Test Force. Throughout his military career, he received various service, achievement, and commendation medals.

After logging over 3,000 hours dispersed across forty different types of aircrafts, it came as no surprise that Virts was chosen as pilot by NASA in July 2000. He was chosen as the lead astronaut during the NASA T-38 program, the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), the Expedition 9, and the STS-130 Endeavour.

The STS-130 mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on February 8, 2010 from Kennedy Space Center and returned on February 21. Virts was the pilot on this flight which was his first space flight. The shuttle’s primary payloads were the Tranquility module and the Cupola, a robotic control station with a design that allowed a 360 degree view of the International Space Station. The mission was completed with a successful return to Kennedy.

NASA has currently chosen Virts to communicate with crews and shuttles from the mission control center in Houston, Texas as a CAPCOM.

Image Caption: Astronaut Terry W. Virts Jr., pilot. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia