OFFICE OF THE SURGEON GENERAL, FALLS CHURCH, Va. — On April 17th, Col. Andrew Morgan — soldier, astronaut, one-time member of the West Point Black Knights parachute team, and Special Forces battalion surgeon — is scheduled to return from the International Space Station. Despite his long list of impressive accomplishments, Morgan describes himself as “a Soldier first;” he has deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa.
Morgan is part of the Army Astronaut Detachment, which supports NASA with flight engineers. He has more than 21 years of military service and is the first Army Medical Corps officer to serve as an astronaut. He is an emergency medicine physician in the Army and also certified in sports medicine. Morgan joined NASA as a member of the 2013 astronaut class and was assigned his specific flight 18 months ago. He has been in space since July 20, 2019. Morgan becomes one of only 239 people from 19 countries who have visited the space station. The ISS has conducted more than 2,800 investigations from researchers in 108 countries.
Morgan is a combat veteran with Airborne and Ranger tabs. He has completed seven spacewalks and the space flight to the ISS. He was flight engineer for Expeditions 60, 61, and 62 during the past nine months.
Morgan and his crewmates facilitated research on projects including mining minerals in the Solar System, looking into methods for engineering plants to grow better on Earth, and examining cells from Parkinson's patients in zero gravity to better understand neurodegenerative diseases.
On April 10th, Morgan participated in a press conference from the ISS with Chris Cassidy and Jessica Meir. All three are Expedition 62 flight engineers.
During the press conference, Morgan commented on a range of topics from COVID-19 to his home state of Pennsylvania.
Morgan spoke of the sense of pride that he and the other members of the flight crew had in the medical professionals around the world and in the U.S. who are fighting the COVID-19 virus.
“As an emergency physician,” he said, “I understand what it is like to be at the doorway of a field hospital on the front lines of combat and that is exactly the situation the physicians and first responders are finding themselves in across the globe right now. I’m very proud to be part of that profession.”
Morgan also thanked the entire NASA team for all their efforts in supporting the international team on the ISS. “Fifty years ago,” he said, “Apollo 13 had a crisis in space and the mission control team on the ground prevailed through their ingenuity and their professionalism. And now, Jessica [Meir] and I are going to land. I believe our landing date corresponds with the landing date of Apollo 13. Once again the mission control centers are going to bring us home safely.”
Morgan takes great pride in the state he calls home. He said, “My roots go very deep in Western Pennsylvania, in fact several generations. I have taken little pieces of who I am up here on the ISS over the last nine months, and western Pennsylvania came with me. It’s been a real honor to represent that part of Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh area, here on the ISS.”
The Army and NASA have been working together for more than 60 years. Although there are currently only three active-duty astronauts in the Army, the Army has significant space assets beyond the detachment.
The Army is the military’s largest user of space-enabled systems, especially for communications. Soldiers need satellites in space to help them see the battlefield, shoot the enemy, and move the force, not just communicate.
The Army needs highly qualified and innovative people as it continuously adapts to the changing world. Although traditional roles such as infantry are important, skills are needed to handle all the technical and specialized jobs that require backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math.
In February, Morgan spoke via a live link with students from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, in Bethesda, Maryland, where he is an alumnus.
“It’s such an honor to be with you” Morgan said. “The Uniformed Services University is a center of excellence for military medicine, and I’m so proud to be a part of your team.”