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Citadel News Service
7 Dec 2016

Citadel space star to lead his second International Space Station expedition

NASA’s Col. Randy Bresnik’s mission covered by cadet to support STEM learning

Col. Randy Bresnik Photo courtesy of NASA

Veteran NASA astronaut and Citadel alumnus, Col. Randy Bresnik, USMC (Ret.), is training for his next mission: he will command Expedition 53 to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled to launch in May of 2017. Halfway through his anticipated six months on the ISS, when the commander of Expedition 52 departs, Bresnik will assume command of the space station itself.

Bresnik is one of 45 active astronauts listed by NASA, and a senior one with regard to experience. This will be his second visit to the ISS. His primary missions have included:

  • STS-129: In 2009, Bresnik was a part of the Space Shuttle Atlantis crew that docked with bresnikthe ISS for 11 days of assignments. His two spacewalks during that mission known as STS-129 totaled 11 hours and 50 minutes. His daughter was born while he was on the mission. A video of his celebration in space can be seen by clicking here.
  • Cave-a-naut: Bresnik trained as a cave-a-naut (a video can be seen by clicking here) for the European Space Agency, testing impacts on the human body while living deep beneath the Earth’s surface.
  • Aquanaut: In 2014, Bresnik commanded a team of aquanauts for NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operation (NEEMO), aboard the Aquarius underwater laboratory.


Much of the training for the May expedition to the ISS occurs at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Citadel Cadet Angelica McNerny will be onsite at the center Dec. 8 to observe Bresnik in an ISS mockup where training for emergency scenarios will be underway. She will be reporting on his endeavors for several months until launch on a Citadel blog and via the college’s social media using #CitadelSpaceStar.

“The opportunities I have had at The Citadel while working toward my undergraduate degree in physics related to my interests in space exploration have been remarkable,” said McNerny. The senior cadet is expected to commission with the U.S. Air Force upon graduating in May to begin Space Systems Operations training. “This will be my second time to the Johnson Space Center. I participated in The Citadel’s ATSA Suborbital Telescope project as an intern in the summer, and now I am headed back to Texas to interview Col. Randy Bresnik and to personally observe training in a mockup of the International Space Station. It doesn’t get much better than this.”

In 2004, Bresnik was among the elite few to be selected to become one of the 11 members of NASA’s Astronaut Class 9, out of approximately 4,000 applicants. Before becoming an astronaut, Bresnik logged more than 6,000 hours in 81 different aircraft during his career as a U.S. Marine Corps officer and TOPGUN aviator. Upon graduating from The Citadel with a degree in mathematics in 1989, Bresnik was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He attended pilot school and was eventually deployed to Kuwait to fly combat missions. He also attended the University of Tennessee where he earned a Master of Science degree in Aviation Systems.

“Col. Randy Bresnik is an exceptionally visible example of The Citadel’s success at developing principled leaders,” said Col. Tom Clark USMC (Ret.), director of The Krause Center for Leadership and Ethics. Clark and Bresnik were both cadets at The Citadel in the 1980s and flew the F/A-18 in the Marine Corps together. “His unassuming leadership style and service to our country as a pilot and an astronaut continue to inspire cadets and many others who follow Col. Bresnik’s accomplishments.”

Col. Bresnik and Col. Tom Clark III, in 2007

Col. Bresnik and Col. Tom Clark III, in 2007

Follow McNerny’s coverage of Bresnik’s mission, as well as the college’s other space-related STEM initiatives by using #CitadelSpaceStar on Twitter and Instagram; theCitadel1842 on Snapchat, @TheCitadel on Facebook, and in the newsroom here. Col. Brenik goes by AstroKomrade on Twitter and Facebook. Learn more about The Citadel STEM Center of Excellence here.

Citadel Cadet Randy BresnikCitadel Cadet Randy Bresnik, 1989

About The Citadel

The Citadel with its iconic campus located in Charleston, South Carolina, offers a classic military college education for young men and women profoundly focused on leadership excellence and academic distinction. Approximately 30 percent of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets commission as officers in every branch of U.S. military service upon graduating. Citadel alumni have served the nation, their state and their communities as principled leaders since the college was founded in 1842. The Citadel Graduate College offers more than 70 graduate degrees, graduate certificates, and evening undergraduate programs with many courses available online. The Citadel has been named Best Public College in the South for six consecutive years and No.1 Best Public College for Veterans in the South by U.S. News and World Report as well as the best value out of all South Carolina colleges and universities, by Forbes.

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