The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command has reported that Army astronaut Col. (Dr.) Andrew “Drew” Morgan successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, aboard a Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft July 20 for a nine-month mission as a flight engineer for Expedition 60 aboard the International Space Station.
“Twenty-five years ago I made the decision to serve my country as a military officer,” Morgan said. “I view my nine-month mission to the space station as a continuation of that service, not just to my country, but the entire international community. Service to others will keep me focused and motivated while I’m away from my family, living and working on board the International Space Station to successfully complete our mission.”
Morgan, alongside his crew members Italian Astronaut Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Russian Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos launched from the cosmodrome’s famous “Gagarin’s Start” launch pad. It is the same one where the world’s first manmade satellite “Sputnik 1” launched from in 1957 as well as the first human in space, Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, in 1961.
Morgan’s launch is on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, which he said is a significant and meaningful way to commemorate the accomplishment for all humanity.
“An international crew launching to an International Space Station on the 50th anniversary of what was the apex of the space race – it’s an interesting contrast,” Morgan said. “The Expedition 60 crew is honored to commemorate Apollo 11’s historic accomplishment for the world with our launch, and proudly bear the torch for the next generation of space exploration.”
Following a six-hour journey, the crew made four orbits around the Earth before docking the Soyuz to the station to begin their mission on the orbital laboratory.
Morgan is the first Army physician in space and is a board-certified Army emergency physician with a sub-specialty certification in primary care sports medicine. During his time aboard the space station, Morgan will participate with his crew mates and others to facilitate numerous medical and technological experiments and tasks, as well as a number of planned high-profile space walks.
His mission, Expeditions 60, 61 and 62, will be the longest single-mission spaceflight for an Army astronaut and be among the longest ever for an American astronaut when complete.
The Army’s involvement in the nation’s space program dates back to the launch of United States’ first satellite, Explorer 1 in 1958. The first U.S. astronaut was launched on an Army rocket. Through the years, 18 Army astronauts have been selected by NASA, with Morgan being the 17th to fly into space.
As a Soldier, Morgan is assigned to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command’s NASA Astronaut Detachment and serves as a NASA flight crew member and provides engineering expertise for human interface with space systems.
Morgan was selected as an astronaut candidate in June 2013 and completed his training in July 2015. Prior to his selection as an astronaut candidate he served as an Army medical corps officer and completed combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I am a Soldier, a military physician, and a NASA astronaut, in that order,” Morgan said. “I’m a Soldier first, and the military trained me to be a leader of character, dedicated to taking care of people. Every quality that’s made me a successful astronaut is a product of my military training: from my academic degrees to my operational skills. While I regularly draw on the technical skills and specialized training I learned in the military, it’s my leadership experiences that I rely on the most.”