If the National Aeronautics and Space Administration gave frequent flyer miles, Kent Rominger would probably be the first human to take a free ride to Pluto. Rominger, a 1978 graduate of Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, is commander of the current Endeavor shuttle mission that has linked up with the International Space Station.
With 876 Earth orbits under his belt in four previous missions – that’s nearly 22 million miles – Rominger is used to space and well suited to lead the effort to attach a huge robot arm to the space station. The arm, built by the Canadian Space Agency, required to finish construction on the space station.
The Del Norte, Colo., native joined Naval Aviation the year after he graduated from Colorado State. He earned a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1987 and had logged more than 5,000 flying hours in more than 35 types of aircraft. He has also made 685 carrier landings, in some cases piloting the first catapult launch and carrier landing for a particular model of aircraft.
As mission commander, Rominger is responsible for operating and monitoring the shuttle and station systems, landing Endeavour and, according to a NASA handout, "keeping the crew in line (his major task)." He performed the first shuttle docking with the International Space Station in 1999, bringing the shuttle Discovery and tons of supplies to the fledgling station.
A graduate of Del Norte High School, Rominger earned the Colorado State University Distinguished Service Award from the College of Engineering in 1997. He has received numerous aviation honors, including the Distinguished Flying Cross.