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Down to Earth: Tracy Caldwell Dyson

After spending nearly six months in space, she is back on the ground, with two expeditions under her belt.

BY J.V. GATEWOODPublished: February 16, 2011 09:57 AM

In 2007, OC METRO named astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson among its Hottest 25 People of Orange County, following her first trip into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor. Four years later – after completing a second trip into space – Caldwell Dyson remains a high-profile figure in the county, and maybe even out of this world.

Since returning to earth, Caldwell Dyson has been in the “post-flight” stage of her trip: She is recuperating at home, attending a variety of technical debriefs and making personal appearances. She’s also probably making time to take the mic and sing with her band, Max Q.

As a member of Expeditions 23 and 24, the flight engineer lived aboard the International Space Station – or ISS – for nearly six months last year. In addition to her regular duties, which included a series of experiments and earth observations, Caldwell Dyson participated in three spacewalks to repair a faulty ammonia pump that cools the station.

During her first trip in August 2007, Caldwell Dyson flew to the space station aboard the shuttle Endeavor. She assisted in flight deck operations on ascent and also aided in docking with the ISS.

The Cal State Fullerton alumna who earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Davis in 1997 first dreamed of space travel as a young girl, drawing inspiration from the experience of women astronauts such as Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who perished in the 1986 Challenger tragedy. As a student at Cal State Fullerton, she worked closely with her faculty mentors, Professors John Olmstead and Scott Hewitt, both of whom never doubted her dreams of going into space.

Perhaps she'll make it back up to space for a third trip.

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