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2004 Astronaut Candidate
Tom Marshburn, Mission Specialist

Tom Marshburn, Mission Specialist. Photo credit: NASA/Johnson Space Center. Tom Marshburn has already climbed some of the world's tallest mountain peaks, but he's determined to go even higher. For him, space is the ultimate summit.

Marshburn, a medical doctor, has been selected to train as an astronaut mission specialist beginning this summer, as part of an astronaut class fully focused on fulfilling the new Vision for Space Exploration. He is already a flight surgeon working at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he will also do his astronaut training.

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

"It has always fascinated me how long journeys can change people for the better," he says. "I am just very curious about places that people rarely see." He is a "big fan" of the author Jules Verne, who often wrote about travel adventures in novels such as Around the World in 80 Days.

Dr. Marshburn, who grew up in Atlanta, could write travel books of his own. When he was 19 years old, he backpacked all the way from Canada to Mexico. His trek took him along the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs along the backbone of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. He says he has climbed mountains all over the world, including Mount Aconcagua on the border of Chile and Argentina. It's the highest mountain in the Western hemisphere.

"Now, I would be very excited to fly into space, particularly to the moon or Mars -- or to be part of the planning process for those missions," he says.

Dr. Marshburn, 43, says his family is excited about all of the adventures that await him.

"My wife is very excited, being a fan of the space program herself, and my older brothers and sisters are thrilled that their 'little brother' made it," he says.

Dr. Marshburn has an 18-month-old daughter, whom he "loves to play with." He also has a cat -- a girl -- named Steve. "We thought of the name before we got the cat," he says.

DR. TOM MARSHBURN, Mission Specialist

AGE: 43

BORN: Statesville, North Carolina

EDUCATION: BS, Physics, Davidson College, NC 1982; MS, Engineering Physics, University of Virginia, 1984; MD, Wake Forest University, North Carolina, 1989; MS, Medical Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch, 1997

CURRENT JOB: Flight Surgeon-Flight Medicine Clinic, Johnson Space Center (JSC)

QUICK FACT: Backpacked from Canada to Mexico at age 19

QUOTE: "It has always fascinated me how long journeys can change people for the better. I am just very curious about places that people rarely see."

Through the years, his patients have been among his inspirations, when they have "successfully overcome incredible challenges." He also credits two college physics teachers, as well as his brothers and sisters, for helping him along.

Dr. Marshburn was born in Statesville, N.C. and attended Davidson College, earning a Bachelor's degree in physics. He earned two Master's degrees, first from the University of Virginia and later from the University of Texas Medical Branch. His M.D. is from Wake Forest University.

Through his work at NASA, Dr. Marshburn lived in Russia for two years, working with the International Space Station program. He also served as lead crew surgeon for the 7th expedition to the Space Station.

Even with all the miles beyond him and all of the adventures ahead, Dr. Marshburn says that, for him, "learning is the most exciting journey."