Grads shoot for the stars with NASA
By MARIBEL MOREY
He grew up watching shuttle launches on television in the 1960s. When he was 12, Michael Good drove with his family to Cape Canaveral to watch the space shuttles in person. But that was just the beginning.
"I feel like I'm living a dream," said Good. "Pretty much ever since [I attended] Notre Dame I wanted to go up in space. When I picked my aerospace major my sophomore year, it was the year the first shuttle went up in 1981."
Notre Dame graduates U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Good and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kevin Ford, who was unavailable for comment, are members of NASA's astronaut class of 2000. Before arriving at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston last week, Good was at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., as an F-15 weapons test officer. Ford was serving as director for plans and programs at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
At Notre Dame, Good, class of 1984, and Ford, class of 1982, both majored in aerospace and mechanical engineering.
"Good is doing something that he's always wanted to do. He's one of the elite people in this field," said Thomas Mueller, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering.
Robert Nelson, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, agreed with Mueller.
"There were and are very good students here. They were both very personable young men, but I knew them only as a faculty member would know them," he said.
For both students and professionals in the field of aerospace engineering, Ford and Good are living out a dream.
"It hasn't been one of my goals, but yeah, I would like to [be an astronaut]," said Mueller.
After years of dreaming, this is now a reality for Good. From over 3,000 applicants, 14 men and three women were selected through a lengthy and highly competitive process that evaluated their education, training, experience and personally unique qualifications. Good was interviewed in October 1999 and was informed of the decision July 20.
This was the third time Good applied but the first time he got an interview. "It's such a long shot. I didn't want to look back and wonder. If I didn't make it, well, I tried," he said.
Michael Good and his family recently purchased a house in Houston. He and his wife, Joan, have 14 and 10-year-old boys, and a 2-year-old girl.
"Joan is very happy and very excited, but the kids are just warming up to the idea," he said.
Now in Houston, Good faces the reality of his dream. When asked about any fears, he declined having any. "I have no fears. I'm used to it doing flight tests in the Air Force. We try to take all the risk out of it. I'm just excited."
Good and Ford have four to five years before they actually go up in space. For the first year, the group will have shuttle training and in the next year, they will each have ground jobs supporting the shuttle program in Houston. From the third year on, each group member will be doing their job and waiting to be assigned to his mission. Once assigned, Good and Ford will train with the other six to seven members for a maximum of a year.
Despite his recent success, Good continues to dream.
"I'd like to help build the international space station," he said.
All News Stories for Tuesday, September 5, 2000