A Citadel alum is blasting off into space on Friday. Randolph "Randy" Bresnik, along with two others, will head to the International Space Station. Bresnik talked with me by phone about life at the Citadel, his mission in space, and his close relationship with a famous astronaut from South Carolina.
"On the 28 of July, we'll be launching 9:41p.m. Kazakhstan time, which is about 11:41 your time in Charleston, a.m." Bresnik will travel to the International Space Station with a Russian cosmonaut and an Italian astronaut.
"We'll go from zero speed on the launch pad to 17,500 miles per hour in just under nine minutes from launch," Bresnik said. And six hours later, their Soyuz rocket will rendezvous with the space station. "We join the crew that's been up there by themselves since June 2. So they'll be happy to get a couple of extra hands to help do the work, until they leave early September." Bresnik and his team will remain on the space station until December. "And we go up there and execute the daily mission that we've been doing on the space station for the last 17 years, which is go ahead and work off the earth for the Earth."
Bresnik will be in outer space during the solar eclipse on August 21. And while people on earth are excited, Bresnik says he's really the one in for the celestial feast. "Absolutely, because I'm being told the last time we had a full solar eclipse like this, it was 99 years ago. And we didn't have anybody in space back then, so it'll be pretty neat to be the human beings to be able to observe that phenomenon from just a short 250 feet orbit above the earth."
Bresnik says he owes his space career to a famous South Carolinian who is well respected in the space industry. "Charlie Bolden was the commander when I was a captain in the marine corps initiating to be a test pilot. He was the one that suggested I apply to test pilot school and become an astronaut some day."
He says the former NASA chief and Columbia native also lived close by when he was in Houston, being chosen as an astronaut. He calls Bolden a mentor and friend.
Bresnik says he will always be grateful to his alma mater, for equipping him with the tools to conquer any role. But he admits, he wasn't sure he was going to make it when he first arrived at the Citadel from southern California. "I had never been east of the Mississippi before and I hadn't felt humidity like that before. So that first freshman year, my knob year, was certainly an interesting year."
He praises the Citadel as a great learning center and the place that taught him to be a leader. Now he's taking those leadership skills into space and beyond.