NASA astronaut presents public lecture to Baylor community

NASA astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough is speaking on campus at 2:30 p.m. in the Baylor Sciences Building in room B-110 on Friday. Photo courtesy of Richard Shane Kimbrough

By Savannah Cooper | Staff Writer

Our green and gold has flung afar — all the way into outer space thanks to one particular National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut who’s not only a Baylor fan, but a Baylor parent. Robert Shane Kimbrough will be giving a public lecture at 2:30 p.m. in the Baylor Sciences Building in room B-110 on Friday.

Dr. Lee Nordt, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Geosciences, said he thinks the event will be fun and knows that his experiences will be beneficial for students to hear about.

“He’ll be here on campus tomorrow and he’ll be recognized at halftime at the football, he and his family,” Nordt said. “He’s going to present a BU flag back to us that he had with him at the space station, he’s a big Baylor fan and it’ll be fun. The lecture is going to be on his experiences as an astronaut also as it related to spending five months based at the space station as the commander.”

The former Army veteran, spent 189 days in space as the commander as part of Expedition 49/50. According to NASA, during Kimbrough’s Expedition he performed four spacewalks logging over 26 hours.

Kimbrough’s daughter, Houston sophomore Kaitlyn Kimbrough said that despite her father having such an astronomical career she still feels that her childhood was normal.

“Growing up with a dad who was an astronaut was pretty normal,” Kaitlyn Kimbrough said. “It seemed like a normal childhood to me because I didn’t know anything else. Looking back on it, I now see how it was different. For example, when my dad went on ‘business trips,’ they were to space.”

One of Kaitlyn Kimbrough’s favorite NASA memories was her dad’s first night launch with a picturesque night sky in the background.

“My favorite memory with NASA was my dad’s first launch,” Kaitlyn Kimbrough said. “It was a night launch and I just remember it being so beautiful as the shuttle launched into the dark night sky.”

The communication with NASA started back in January when Robert Kimbrough agreed to do a live stream from space with a class audience of nearing 75 where students asked him questions and hearing what his experiences were like.

After that conversation Baylor and NASA kept in communication to bring Robert Kimbrough to campus physically one day and Nordt is glad that’s finally a reality.

“NASA agreed to beam him in from the space station to a classroom here on campus, we had a limited audience there of 75 people,” Nordt said. “He beamed in from space and talked to us and took questions that day. We agreed that day we would follow up and get him on campus for a visit in presence that’s how it led to this.”

Nordt said he is looking forward to the event and hopes for a full house to be present ready to listen.

“I’m hoping we’ll have a full house, I think it will be exciting and interesting, I don’t know if we’ve ever had a astronaut on campus before, certainly not one of this stature who has just come back from a five month stay as the commander of the space station, so we’re very excited and grateful to NASA for him to agreeing to do this.”