On 20th February, Tony Antonelli will be coming to Newcastle University to discuss his experiences of going to outer space and what it takes to be an astronaut.
Tony was selected as a NASA pilot in 2000 after previously working as Commander of the US Navy and having been a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. It was not until 2009 that he flew his first mission as pilot of the space shuttle Discovery which delivered important machinery to the International Space Station. Since then, Tony has spent a total of more than 24 days in space. In 2010, he also piloted the shuttle Atlantis which docked with the International Space Station. During this mission, he orbited Earth 186 times, travelling 4,879,978 miles.
Tony retired from NASA in 2015. Chris Cassidy, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre said that, ‘his skills and expertise were extremely valuable to our exploration and Space Launch System engineering team.’ He also received several awards as a NASA astronaut, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.
The talk, which runs from 7-9 PM and is being held in the Curtis Auditorium is open to everyone and is a ticketed event. Standard prices are £18 but concessions are £12. This is part of Tony’s brief tour in the UK as he will also be speaking in Birmingham, Leeds and Portsmouth.
In 2017, approximately 18,300 people applied to become a NASA astronaut, with less than 0.1% of those getting through to the interview stages. So, Tony Antonelli will be able to tell any aspiring star men and women just what it takes to make is as an astronaut. It will be a fantastic opportunity to hear about Tony’s experience in space as well as to learn about the rigours of NASA training, which is probably even more difficult than movies like Space Cowboys and Armageddon make out.
It doesn’t matter if you are a budding space shuttle pilot who wants to follow in Tony’s footsteps, anyone with an interest in space exploration would certainly benefit from meeting one of the few people that have travelled to space. It could be that one of the daring pioneers to first step foot on Mars decades from now was a Newcastle student that was inspired by Tony Antonelli.