Wright State University Aerospace Medicine graduate to spend six months aboard the International Space Station

Michael Barratt, M.D., will serve as a flight engineer for the historic mission; launch is scheduled for March 26

DAYTON, Ohio-Eighteen years after his graduation from the aerospace medicine residency program at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in 1991, astronaut Michael Barratt, M.D., will soon have the chance to apply what he learned nearly 200 miles above the Earth's surface.

As a flight engineer for International Space Station (ISS) Expeditions 19 and 20, Barratt will travel to the space station aboard a Russian Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 26. The ship will dock with the ISS two days later. Barratt will remain on the station for nearly six months, with a planned return to Earth on October 11.

With the arrival of three new crew members in late May, the historic Expedition 20 will begin, marking the first time the station will support a full, six-person crew.

As a flight engineer, Barratt will oversee many science investigations, contribute to daily station operations and conduct two spacewalks in June to prepare for the addition of a new Russian docking module. According to NASA, during Expedition 20 the station will be visited by the Space Shuttle twice, by two Russian Progress resupply vehicles and by a new cargo ship, the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-1).

Following his graduation from the aerospace medicine program, Barratt worked for NASA at the Johnson Space Center on the Space Station Freedom project. In 1993, he became one of the first Americans to attend the landing of a Soyuz spacecraft, and he spent the next several years supporting the new joint U.S./Russian Shuttle-Mir project. From 1995 to 1998, he served as Medical Operations Lead for the ISS. Barratt then acted as lead crew surgeon for the first expedition crew until he was selected, along with 16 other candidates, as a member of the NASA Astronaut Class of 2000.

As his launch date draws near, Barratt is most excited about the opportunity to gain firsthand experience of the subject to which he has devoted his adult life.

"As a space medicine specialist," Barratt said, "I spent long years studying space medicine, teaching it to various people-including to astronauts who were about to fly... I'm formally trained, obviously, starting at Wright State and finishing at NASA, but to get this experience to add to that formal training, I think, is really going to be great. That's one of the big things I'm looking forward to.

"The academic background that I got at Wright State was a huge thing," Barratt added. "That just makes a big difference, to have that background. You think systematically and transfer knowledge from the aviation environment to the space environment real easily."

Like Barratt, many of his fellow graduates are now playing important roles in space programs around the world. For example, Ed Powers, M.D., one of Barratt's closest friends since they met as residents two decades ago, will serve as NASA's flight surgeon for Expeditions 19 and 20.

When he departs for the ISS, Barratt will take along a small banner bearing the Boonshoft School of Medicine logo. He plans to be photographed with the banner while in orbit and will present the banner and photo to the medical school for display upon his return.

Robin Dodge, M.D., associate professor of community health and director of the division of aerospace medicine, expressed great pride in Barratt's accomplishments.

"We are proud of all our program graduates and especially pleased for Mike given the success he has enjoyed so far in his career," Dodge said. "We were happy for him when he was chosen as an astronaut and thrilled to learn of his role in Expeditions 19 and 20. We wish him all the best for a memorable stay on ISS and a safe return home."

Editor's Note: The Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine's Aerospace Medicine Residency Program is the longest-running civilian program in the United States. It has been acknowledged as a leader in aerospace medicine worldwide. In addition to students from the U.S., the program has attracted students from 20 foreign countries. Graduates of the program hold responsible aerospace positions in all parts of the world.

Spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi will be traveling to the ISS with Barratt on March 26. The 60-year-old billionaire software mogul, who led the development of Microsoft Word and Excel, will become the first "space tourist" to make two voyages into space.

Editor's note: For more information or to schedule an interview contact: Phillip Neal, Marketing and Communications, Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, (937) 775-4587 or phillip.neal@wright.edu.

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Last edited on 12/15/2014.