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2004 Astronaut Candidate
Jim Dutton, Pilot

Jim Dutton, Pilot. Photo credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center. Jim Dutton was just a little too young to remember when, on July 20, 1969, humans first walked on the moon. Yet, that moment was a big part of his childhood. "When I was growing up, I had a poster of Neil Armstrong hanging on my bedroom wall," he says.

Now, Dutton may be getting his own chance to follow in Armstrong's famous steps. He's scheduled to begin astronaut training as a pilot this summer at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Image left: 2004 Astronaut Candidate Jim Dutton. Click for High Resolution ImagePhoto credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center.

He will be part of an astronaut candidate class fully focused on fulfilling the new Vision for Space Exploration, which calls for returning humans to the moon, setting up a base there, and eventually sending people to Mars.

"I hope to be in on the ground work," Dutton says. "As a test pilot, I would love to be in on the development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle."

Dutton is a major in the U.S. Air Force and his most recent assignment has been as an F/A-22 test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California. During the 1990s, he flew F-15 combat air patrols over the no-fly zone in northern Iraq.

Dutton has degrees from the U.S. Air Force Academy and the University of Washington, but he says he was inspired to become an astronaut in middle school. "I was always interested in outer space, always looking at the stars," he said. "When I was in 7th grade, I got an assignment to research my dream job for career day. I thought, 'Why not an astronaut?' The school librarian, Mrs. Linda Ague, helped me do the research, and it was then I got my first glimpse of what it took to be an astronaut."

He also spent a lot of time learning about the space program with his father. "My dad and I watched a lot of documentaries," he says. "We were real documentary junkies."


AGE: 35

BORN: Eugene, Oregon

EDUCATION: BS, Aeronautical Engineering, USAF Academy, 1991; MS, Aeronautics & Astronautics, University of Washington, 1994

CURRENT JOB: F/A-22 Test Pilot, Edwards AFB, CA

QUICK FACT: Flew combat air patrols over Northern Iraq during the 1990s

QUOTE: "When I was growing up, I had a poster of Neil Armstrong hanging on my bedroom wall."

Dutton had a "middle-America upbringing" in Eugene, Oregon, where he attended Sheldon High School. His parents ran a small company, and he and his siblings -- a brother and a sister -- spent a lot of their free time playing sports and enjoying the outdoors. "I love Oregon," he says. "I really miss it."

Dutton, 35, now has a family of his own. He and his wife are the parents of three boys ages six, three, and eight months. They've lived at Edwards for the last four and a half years but are looking forward to moving to Houston.

"The decisions that will have to be made over the next few years will set the course for the exploration vision," Dutton says. "It's going to be a real honor to make a contribution to that."