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Iowa History Daily: May 14 - James Kelly Reaches the Stars

Iowa History Daily: On March 14, 1964, two-time American Space Shuttle Pilot James M. Kelly was born in Burlington, Iowa. Educated in the county seat of southeastern Iowa’s Des Moines County, Kelly graduated from Burlington High School in the spring of 1982. Drawn to the skies, the former Greyhound enrolled at the United States Air Force Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science in astronautical engineering in 1986.

Designated an Air Force Pilot in the fall of 1987, Kelly reported to the 426th F-15 Replacement Training Unit to train on the F-15 Eagle. After training, an assignment to the 67th Fighter Squadron, 18th Fighter Wing, brought the young pilot to Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. Rising quickly, Kelly moved from designation of pilot, to instructor pilot, evaluator pilot, and eventually mission commander.

Sent to Air Force Test Pilot School during the early 1990s, Kelly graduated and worked at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada, as a project test pilot and assistant operations officer until his selection for the astronaut test program. During his career he piloted 35 different aircrafts during over 2,500 flight hours.

Starting at NASA in 1996, two years of additional training preceded Kelly’s eventual rise to outer space. In 2001, he piloted the eighth Space Shuttle mission (STS-102 Discovery) to the International Space Station. Tabbed with the daunting mission to pilot the first Space Shuttle mission following the Columbia disaster, Kelly successfully guided NASA’s return to flight mission to the International Space Station in the summer of 2005. Now a retired Colonel for the USAF, Kelly spent 26 days, 17 hours, and 21 minutes in space. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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