February 14, 2012
HE HAD always wanted to be an astronaut since the age of four. As the planes flew overhead, he would crane his little neck and squint his eyes into the sun wondering what it would be like to soar above the clouds.
After graduating from high school with honours, he headed off to Texas Tech for further study. Because he wanted to be an astronaut, Rick wrote to NASA and asked what qualifications the agency required in pilots or mission specialists. He received a letter stating the specifications and he was using that as a road map: First he had to get a degree in either engineering, maths, biological or physical sciences and become a fighter pilot (test pilot would be an advantage) in the military and get a minimum 1,000 flying hours to qualify for the space programme. Over and above that, he would need a master’s degree in mechanical engineering to be eligible to apply.