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accumulated more than 3,500 hours of flight time in 41 different types of aircraft, including the F-15E Strike Eagle. He is a veteran of 76 combat missions and has served as a research pilot at NASA’s Johnson Space Center the last five years. It was his work at Johnson that gave Hines a small insight into the selection process of the 18,000 applicants to the space program. He joked that throughout each phase of the process, he spent the entire time mentally preparing himself not to make it to the next phase. Then, he got the call.

“When they told me I was selected I didn’t know how to handle it; I had prepared so long to not be picked” recalled Hines. “We [candidates] get to know each other pretty well, so I realized there are incredible people with amazing experiences. It’s completely unbelievable that out of so many qualified applicants, I got picked. I don’t know how NASA does it.”

Hines related that despite the known dangers of space flight, he and his family are very excited. He and his wife, Kelli have three children, and it was his youngest who beat her dad to the punch as she announced to her grandparents that “Daddy’s a ‘NASAnaut’!” .

“[The danger] doesn’t bother me because of my military and combat situations,” offered Hines. “I’m used to being in situations that are somewhat dangerous while trying to accomplish a certain mission. The environment will be new and the mission will be one of a kind. I’m really excited about getting to do that.”

Hines, who earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Boston University and Masters Degrees in Flight Test Engineering and Aerospace Engineering, will report for duty in August 2017 to begin two years of training as an Astronaut Candidate. He will study the space walk techniques, orbital mechanics and other skills needed for long duration space flight like emergency medicine, dentistry and geology, as well as the Russian language to communicate with his International Space Station colleagues. Upon completion, he will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while he awaits a flight assignment.

“This is a super exciting time to be here,” said Hines as he likened the current status of the NASA space program to the years between the Apollo missions and the shuttle program. “There is something on the horizon and we are about to start it. Just to be a small part in that transition is exciting to me. “

Since there are so many variables to mission assignments, including federal budgets and now international relationships, Hines will not know for some time when and where he will be assigned. The uncertainly doesn’t bother him, however, as being a part of such an exciting time at NASA is enough.

“I have a potential to fly on any of four different vehicles both Russian and American, Five years ago I didn’t think in a million years I never thought I’d be part of this,” concluded Hines.

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