Ricky Arnold

From Snorkeling to Spacewalking

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A baby picture of Ricky Arnold

Ricky Arnold

Astronaut Ricky Arnold was born in 1963 in Cheverly, Maryland, and was raised in Bowie, Maryland. He has one younger sister. His grandparents lived near the coast in Florida, where he would sometimes visit.

Ricky Arnold
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A photo of a young Ricky Arnold in an astronaut costume

The Growing- Up Years

Ricky’s family spent weekends camping in the mountains and visited Maryland’s beaches in the summer. He did the typical childhood things, like pretending to be an astronaut…

The Growing- Up Years
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A photo of a young Ricky Arnold in a T-ball uniform

And participating in Scouts and Little League. Ricky had a love for baseball, but he also loved two other things: space and water – especially the ocean.

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Ricky Arnold and his sister as children at an Apollo-Soyuz test project historical landmark

Water and Space

Ricky was fascinated with the Apollo moon landings and the Skylab missions. But here on Earth, the famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau was intriguing the world with his underwater adventures, and Ricky was just as interested in the marine environment as he was with space travel.

Water and Space
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Ricky Arnold holds a large fish while standing on a dock

Living close to the Chesapeake Bay, Ricky would often go fishing and crabbing. While visiting his grandparents in Florida, Ricky had his first glimpses of life underwater as he learned to snorkel. He was fascinated by what he saw.

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Ricky Arnold in a graduation cap and gown

Education

After high school, Ricky went to Frostburg State University in northwestern Maryland and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in accounting in 1985. But Ricky soon realized that accounting wasn’t a good fit, so he completed a teacher certification program in 1988. While teaching, Ricky earned a master’s in marine and estuarine environmental science from the University of Maryland in 1992 and started work as an oceanographic technician with the United States Naval Academy.

Education
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Ricky Arnold stands on the right with two other men in a classroom

A World-Traveling Teacher

Ricky had an adventurous spirit and wanted to do some traveling while teaching. From 1993 until 2003, he taught math and science in Casablanca, Morocco; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; West Papua, Indonesia; and Bucharest, Romania.

A World-Traveling Teacher
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Ricky Arnold in his blue NASA flight suit

Getting to NASA

In 2003, Ricky learned NASA had put out a call for people interested in becoming a NASA astronaut. Educators were allowed to apply, so he put in his application. In 2004, while on a fishing trip with his father, he got the call that he’d been selected.

Getting to NASA
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Ricky Arnold under water in a scuba suit

NEEMO

Ricky completed his astronaut training in 2006. In August 2007, he served as a mission specialist on a joint NASA-NOAA mission called NASA Extreme Environment Mission Objectives. On NEEMO, he lived and worked in and around Aquarius -- the world’s only undersea laboratory. In 2009, he completed training as a Deep Worker submersible vessel pilot. Since then, he has supported underwater operations for the Pavilion Lake Research Project and NASA NEEMO.

NEEMO
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Ricky Arnold on a spacewalk outside the space station

Walking In Space

Ricky flew on the space shuttle Discovery for STS-119 in 2009, where he completed two spacewalks to install solar array wings and a truss element to the station.

Walking In Space
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Ricky Arnold and his crew, wearing orange suits, stand outside a cave

‘Cavenauts’

In 2016, Ricky led a multinational crew in a European Space Agency six-day mission mapping and exploring a large cave network in Sardinia.

‘Cavenauts’
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Ricky Arnold with A.J. (Drew) Feustel and Oleg Artemyev, Expedition 55/56 crewmates

Preparing for the ISS

Ricky launched to the International Space Station in March 2018 for a six-month stay in space as a part of Expeditions 55 and 56.

Preparing for the ISS