Army Astronaut Col. Douglas Wheelock visits Colorado Springs
March 10, 2011
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- At an elevation of over six thousand feet, Colorado Springs is one of the closest cities to space in the United States. This should make Army Astronaut Col. Douglas Wheelock feel right at home. As the commander of the International Space Station, Wheelock spent six months in space, leading the international crew of Expedition 25. The 19 member crew returned to Earth this past November. On March 9, Wheelock stopped at United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command/ Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) to visit with personnel and their families.
Wheelock was the first Army Astronaut to command the International Space Station, and he has become even more of a local hero for the command. Outgoing USASMDC/ARSTRAT Deputy Commanding General for Operations Brig. Gen. Kurt S. Story came down to the building lobby to greet the recently returned astronaut, and motioned to a copy of the Army Space Journal with the headline "First in Space."
Aca,!A"This is an Army first. That needs to go in the lobby, right up there 'First in Space,' " Story told the crowd, motioning to a wall near the main staircase.
One young fan brought her blanket with her to show Wheelock, asking him if he brought his blanket into space with him. Wheelock leaned in to whisper "Shh ... it's a secret. Yes, I sleep with one every night in space. But don't tell anyone, okay'"
Spec. Roger Rodriques asked Wheelock what his favorite thing about being an astronaut is.
"Talking to kids when I visit the schools. That's absolutely my favorite part, just being able to share what I do with the younger generation, and inspiring them to achieve their dreams," said Wheelock.
Wheelock signed most photos with inspirational sayings including "I hope all your dreams come true" and "Aim High! Touch the stars!" Several parents also had him write special comments to their children, telling them to "keep doing math" and "stay in school."
Wheelock stayed to sign for nearly three hours, talking with fans, taking photos and answering any questions about his mission. While he was in town, he also spoke to classes at the National Security Space Institute about his mission and signed autographs for families on Fort Carson. Following his visit, he returned to his home station at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.