One of the six astronauts that took off in space on the Space Shuttle Atlantis Monday was the first Citadel graduate to do so. Marine Lt. Col. Randy Bresnik graduated from the Citadel with a degree in math, and gained much of his aircraft experience as a Marine. Mike Rogers of the Citadel Alumni Association says Bresnik is giving the college international recognition with a few items he’s taking with him to the International Space Station.
“One of the items is the drumsticks he used as a drummer in the Regimental Band. For a drummer that would be important. Another item he’s gonna carry is a honor coin that the Citadel Alumni Association manufactured several years ago. He’s also going to carry, I think this is right, a Citadel tartan, which he wore as a member of the band. And then, most importantly he’s going to carry ‘Big Red’ which is the South Carolina core cadet’s spirit flag,” says Rogers.
Rogers says the reason for the items Bresnik will take to space is simply for publicity. The spacecraft launched at 2:28 Monday afternoon, and had three spacewalks planned. Bresnik is expected to take part in two of the three spacewalks, where he will leave the shuttle to land on the space station. Rogers explains the reason for the launch.
“This mission is a re-supply mission to the space station. I understand they are carrying a lot of supplies up there in order to keep the station up as long as they can in case there’s no more shuttle flights to re-stock or re-supply the space station,” says Rogers.
Rogers says the International Space Station is important because it gives researchers more knowledge and images of planet Earth. He says Bresnik being a Citadel alumni is a great accomplishment.
“Engineering here is a big deal at the Citadel. We take a lot of pride in our engineering program. It’s nationally ranked, we get better every year, and for a small school that’s a source of pride for us, and to have our first astronaut is even a bigger source of pride,” says Rogers.
The Atlantis left from the Kennedy Space Center and can be viewed online at NASA TV. It will take about ten days to complete the mission.