Tech Alumnus Selected for NASA's Astronaut Class of 2004

Now that NASA has set its sights on sending a manned mission to Mars, Shane Kimbrough is hoping he'll be blasting off to the red planet.

A Georgia Tech alumnus and Atlanta-native, Kimbrough was named today as one of 11 astronauts tapped to be part of NASA's Astronaut Class of 2004. The astronauts will be NASA's first since President George Bush announced its new vision for space exploration in January.

"Once I finish my first year of astronaut training, I hope to be assigned to several technical jobs so I can improve myself, professionally,." he said. "But then I'd be thrilled to take on any space mission ­ even to the moon or Mars."

Kimbrough, 36, will serve as a mission specialist.

Kimbrough is an Army major and currently works for NASA as a flight simulation engineer on the Shuttle Training Aircraft at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Kimbrough graduated from Georgia Tech with a master's degree in Operations Research in 1998. He also graduated from The Lovett School in Atlanta.

As an Army pilot, he was trained to fly both airplanes and helicopters but was assigned to helicopters. He served in the Gulf War as a platoon leader.

Kimbrough also taught math at West Point, including calculus and statistics.

Though his career has been focused on serving his country, Kimbrough says the opportunity to serve as an astronaut fulfills a childhood dream.

"I have been fascinated by space travel since I was a kid. I want to explore the unknown," Kimbrough said.

Kimbrough and the other 10 candidates will report to NASA's Johnson Space Center this summer to begin their training.

Other candidates chosen to be included in NASA's astronaut class of 2004:

· Joe Acaba, a mission specialist-educator, 36, is a science and math teacher at Dunnellon Middle School in Dunnellon, Fla.

· Ricky Arnold II, mission specialist-educator, 41, is a science and math teacher at the American International School in Bucharest, Romania.

· Randy Bresnik, pilot, 36, is a Marine Corps major from the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, Calif., where he served as an operations officer and F/A-18 pilot.

· Chris Cassidy, mission specialist, 34, a Navy lieutenant commander, is an oceanographer.

· Jim Dutton, pilot, 35, is an Air Force major and F/A-22 test pilot based at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

· Jose Hernandez, mission specialist, 41, is an electrical engineer at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

· Tom Mashburn, mission specialist, 43, is a flight surgeon at Johnson Space Center.

· Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, mission specialist-educator, 29, is a science teacher and coach at Fort Collins High School in Fort Collins, Colo.

· Bobby Satcher Jr., mission specialist, 38, is an assistant professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

· Shannon Walker, mission specialist, 38, is an engineer at Johnson Space Center.

Georgia Tech has a proud history in space exploration. Ten astronauts have earned degrees from Georgia Tech, another three graduates have been selected as candidates for future missions and another astronaut is a former Tech faculty member.