By Caroline Newman
NASA selected Tingle, 52, as an astronaut in 2009 after a decorated career in the U.S. Navy. He has spent years training for this first mission, which will take him to the International Space Station on Dec. 17. Tingle and his fellow astronauts, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Norishege Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, are scheduled to remain in space until May or June, during which time they will undertake about 250 research investigations and experiments, in addition to maintenance and repairs.
For Tingle, the launch will be the culmination of a lifelong dream sparked as a child watching Neil Armstrong take man’s first steps on the moon.
“The excitement and wonder of doing something so new and forward-thinking captured my imagination at a young age,” he said.
In addition to his NASA training and naval career – he logged more than 4,500 flight hours and 54 combat missions before joining NASA – Tingle wanted to hone his leadership skills before his first space launch. That’s why he chose to attend Darden’s intensive three-week program for senior executives.
In a special UVA Today Facebook Live session from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Tingle reflected on his time at Darden and offered a peek inside the training module he and his fellow astronauts are using to prepare for launch. Check it out in the video below.
Tingle will be the ninth Wahoo to explore the final frontier. Professor and alumna Kathryn Thornton, director of the aerospace engineering program in UVA’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, completed four space flights as a NASA astronaut, including a spacewalk to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. In addition to Thornton, other UVA alumni who have traveled to space include Karl Henize (who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the College of Arts & Sciences in 1947 and 1948), U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (a 1968 graduate of the School of Law), Gregory Olsen (a 1971 graduate of Engineering School), Jeff Wisoff (a 1980 graduate of the College), Thomas Marshburn (a 1984 graduate of the Engineering School), Patrick Forrester (a 1989 graduate of the Engineering School) and Leland Melvin (a 1991 graduate of the Engineering School).
Since being selected as one of 14 members of the 20th NASA astronaut class, Tingle has worked his way through the years of training associated with a mission to the International Space Station. The training schools astronauts in everything from the mundane (how to prepare and eat food on board, or how to exercise and stay in shape in space) to the extreme (how to conduct spacewalks or react in emergencies).
Astronauts also prepare to conduct a wide variety of experiments. For example, Tingle and his crewmates will monitor how the human spine extends in a zero-gravity environment and will use blood, urine and saliva samples to study how human DNA reacts to space flight.
In the video above, Tingle discussed how the business curriculum at Darden applies to his upcoming mission.
“At Darden, we talked a lot about how teams function and did a lot of case studies,” he said. “A lot of those lessons learned there apply directly to the teams that we work with. NASA has a very diverse group of individuals working in all aspects of this program, and it is very important to invite, include and inspire [everyone].”
Tingle also answered viewers’ questions about his upcoming mission, such as what he is most looking forward to (seeing Earth from above); what he will bring with him (photos of his wife, Raynette, and their three children, and a few UVA items he plans to share on social media); and if he has seen the new “Star Wars” movie.
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The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D. and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.