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2004 Astronaut Candidate
Ricky Arnold, Mission Specialist-Educator

Ricky Arnold, Mission Specialist-Educator. Photo credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center. "When you do a web search on 'astronaut training,'" says astronaut candidate Ricky Arnold, "you come up with Malaysia's plan for training astronauts, as well as Japan's, South Korea's, and Europe's. There's a lot of international interest in space travel."

Arnold has a lot of international interests, too. For the past decade, he's been teaching science and math in schools from Morocco to Romania. Soon, the cosmos may be his classroom.

Image left: 2004 Astronaut Candidate Ricky Arnold. Click for High Resolution Image. Photo credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center.

Arnold, 40, has been selected to train as one of three educator astronauts, fully-qualified mission specialists who will embody NASA's mission to inspire the next generation of explorers. He reports for training this summer to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"My kids have never lived in America before," he laughs, "even though they think of it as home."

"I've had an interest in space since I was a kid," Arnold says, "but being a pilot wasn't my thing. When NASA started looking for people with my skills, I thought: Here's my opportunity. I hope to make a real connection with schools, to get them excited about what's going on in human space flight.

"The International Space Station is a great model for what people can accomplish when they work together," he says.

Arnold teaches a variety of science and math classes at the American International School in Bucharest, Romania. Students at the school include the children of Americans living in Romania, as well as local children, many of whom hope to study in the United States someday.

RICKY ARNOLD, Mission Specialist

AGE: 40

BORN: Cheverly, Maryland

EDUCATION: BS, Accounting, Frostburg State Univ., MD, 1985; MS, Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science, University of Maryland, 1992

CURRENT JOB: Math and Science Teacher, American International School, Bucharest, Romania

QUICK FACT: Has also taught in Morocco and Saudi Arabia

QUOTE: "I am excited about the future missions. Getting back to the moon will be a big step."

"It's remarkable, when my students are out socializing," Arnold says, "the different languages you hear, the different religious beliefs, different holidays. I am always learning something from the kids."

Arnold grew up in Bowie, Maryland, and his family still keeps a house on Maryland's Eastern Shore. He attended two Maryland colleges, earning a Bachelor of Science at Frostburg State and a Master's at the University of Maryland. Arnold's wife and two daughters will accompany him to Houston.

"Just getting selected to train as an astronaut is a dream assignment. I'll do whatever NASA needs me to do," he says. "I am excited about the future missions. Getting back to the moon will be a big step."