Col. Terry Virts was selected as a Space Shuttle pilot by NASA in 2000. His technical assignments included lead astronaut for the NASA T-38 program, Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL) test crewmember, Expedition 9 crew support astronaut, CAPCOM, and lead astronaut for SLS.
On February 8, 2010 Virts launched on his first spaceflight as the pilot of STS-130 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour, carrying the Node3 module as well as the cupola on the final assembly flight of the International Space Station. Endeavour landed on February 22, 2010. On November 23, 2014, Soyuz TMA-15M carrying Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. It successfully docked at the International Space Station roughly six hours later. On February 28, 2015, following the death of Star Trek actor, Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock, Virts tweeted an image from the International Space Station of his Vulcan Cohanim-inspired salute, improvised by the late actor when he was asked to portray an alien life form’s desire that others live long and prosper, as the ISS flew over Boston, the city of the actor’s birth.
With the impending scheduled departure of Soyuz TMA-14M in March 2015, Virts assumed command of the International Space Station as commander of Expedition 43. Soyuz TMA-15M landed on June 11, 2015, in Kazakhstan. Col. Virts retired from NASA in August 2016.
Col. Virts was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but considers Columbia, Maryland, to be his hometown. He graduated from Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, Maryland in 1985. He earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics (with a French minor) from the United States Air Force Academy in 1989 and a master of aeronautical science degree in aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1997. While at the Air Force Academy, Virts attended the École de l’Air in 1988 on an exchange program.
Virts was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant upon graduation from the United States Air Force Academy in 1989 and earned his pilot wings at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. He completed basic fighter lead-in training at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico followed by formal training in the F-16 Fighting Falcon with the 56th Tactical Fighter Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. He was then assigned to the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida. After Hurricane Andrew struck southern Florida in 1992, his squadron was moved to Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. He was later assigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, and the 22nd Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
Virts was selected for Test Pilot School in 1997 at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Following graduation, he was an Experimental Test Pilot at the F-16 Combined Test Force. He has logged more than 5,000 flight hours in 40 different aircraft including all models of the F-16, the T-38, and Gulfstream Shuttle Training Aircraft.
Col. Virts graduated with Academic Distinction from the United States Air Force Academy and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, was a distinguished graduate of Undergraduate Pilot Training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, and F-16 training at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. His military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Commendation Medal. He was also awarded the prestigious Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award in 2020. He is currently involved in several television and film projects, serving on corporate boards, writing, and promoting public policy.
Col. Terry Virts, retd., is currently travelling the world inspiring audiences with stories from space as well as his insights into life on earth. He brings his unique perspective to businesses around the world in such diverse topics as our environment, global wealth, intercultural leadership, crisis and risk management, innovation, strategy and vision, and decision making. He recently directed his first film, One More Orbit. His next book, How to Astronaut, is due out in September of 2020.
- Virts, Terry (2017). View From Above: An Astronaut Photographs the World. National Geographic. – A coffee table book from National Geographic; contains mostly photographs of Earth, with additional photos of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, the International Space Station and related subjects; also contains stories about Virts’ experiences as an astronaut.
- Virts, Terry (2019). Apo11o: To the Moon and Back. – A limited edition, luxury replication of the Apollo 11 Flight Plan.
He has also been featured in the following documentaries:
- A Beautiful Planet – IMAX documentary film showing scenes of Earth which stars Col. Virts and other ISS astronauts.
- One More Orbit – A mission and documentary film. In 2019, Virts circumnavigated the planet via the North and South Poles in honor of the Apollo 11 mission’s 50th anniversary. The mission broke the world time and speed records, earning Guinness World and FAI records.
Col. Virts is one of only 4 astronauts to have piloted a Space Shuttle, flown a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, performed space walks and commanded the ISS. Terry has a unique perspective of the earth having taken more photos from space than any other astronaut.
Kepler’s Management is excited to have Terry as part of Kepler and its subsidiaries’ team. We feel that Col. Virts’ presence on the Kepler team will help propel Kepler to new heights in our satellite launch platform business as well as assist us as we enter into the global space race.
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