‘I Went From Bad Student To NASA Astronaut’: Scott Kelly

Former NASA astronaut owes his glorious career to Tom Wolfe's book "The Right Stuff."

Scott Kelly playing with some fruits on the International Space Station.
NASA / Getty Images

Former NASA astronaut owes his glorious career to Tom Wolfe's book "The Right Stuff."

Former American astronaut Scott Kelly says he was a poor student until he found inspiration in Tom Wolfe’s famous book “The Right Stuff” that he read at the age of 18 while pursuing bachelor’s degree in science from the State University of New York Maritime College in the Bronx.

According to Scott, this book, which was about America’s early space programs, inspired him to work hard in his studies and to also excel in his career as a NASA astronaut.

“It inspired me to become a fighter pilot in the Navy and, later, a test pilot, and, after that, an astronaut,” Kelly told Fox News.

He said his story shows it is possible to achieve good results with some inspiration and hard work.

Scott Kelly was born on February 21, 1964, in West Orange, New Jersey. He was younger to his twin brother Mark Kelly who also had a successful career with NASA. Scott and Mark were good players in high school and participated in football, baseball, and other games, according to Space.com. They were also the co-captains of their school’s swimming team.

In 1996, Scott completed his master’s degree in aviation systems from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. In the same year, NASA selected him for the astronaut class program. Over the next two decades, Scott served the American space agency as the pilot and commander of Space Shuttle. His first space mission started in December 1999 as the pilot of STS-103. The crew of this mission spent eight days in orbit to upgrade systems on the Hubble Space Telescope. Scott’s next mission was STS-118 in 2007. This mission involved adding different instruments on the International Space Station (ISS).

In March 2016, Scott Kelly became the first American astronaut to spend 12 consecutive months in orbit. During this mission, he spent 340 days on the ISS. In total, he spent 520 days in space before retiring from NASA in 2016.

In his interview with Fox News, Scott Kelly expressed his views about the findings of a new study, the State of Science Index, which was commissioned by 3M to investigate the attitude of people toward science. In this study, a total of 14,036 people in 14 countries, including the U.S., Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, India, and Brazil, were asked questions about the impact of science on their lives.

According to Scott, it was surprising to know that a large number of people still feel intimidated by science.

It was also shocking that 38 percent of the survey respondents said that absence of science won’t produce any noticeable change in their everyday life.

Another alarming finding of the study was that about 36 percent believed that only brilliant people can have a successful career in science.

“A lot of people think [that] to be a scientist you have to be a genius – I am here to tell you that that is not the case,” Scott said.

“I was not a genius growing up – I was the kid that couldn’t do his homework, but I found this inspiration – 18 years later I was flying in space.”

Kelly advised the young people to find their field of interest first and then work hard to have a rewarding career in that field.