Terry Virts Will Be The Next Space Superstar

On Sunday, after spending 5-months (165 days) aboard the International Space Station (ISS), the three-crew members of Expedition 41 have safely returned to Earth, touching down in Kazakhstan yesterday on November 9th. While in space, the trio (Commander Max Suraev of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Reid Wiseman of NASA, and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency) gained quite a following thanks to their frequent use of social media. By posting photos and videos online, the crew has amassed well over half a million followers.

Now Terry Virts will pick up where Wiseman, Gerst and Suraev left off. The 46-year-old Air Force pilot is the next person who will be traveling 205 miles above earth at speeds up to 17,000 miles per hour. He will be joined by his Expedition 42 crewmates, Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplero, for this 6-month stint board the ISS. The mission is expected to kickoff at approximately 4 p.m. on Nov. 23, when a Russian Soyuz capsule will transport the astronauts to the space station.

Once there, his team will conduct at least two spacewalks and support hundreds of experiments in the station’s laboratory throughout the duration of their stay. Fortunately, you can expect Virts to keep his space fans updated along the way.

In the process of training for the journey, Virts has loyally been posting photos of his final weeks on earth before launching to space from Kazakhstan. The Expedition 41 crew has received massive support utilizing the same strategy. Virts, as a result, will naturally become the next space superstar.

Here’s a little background on the astronaut: He hails from Columbia, Md., and is an Air Force Colonel in the United States Air Force. In July 2000, Virts was selected as a pilot by NASA, and reported for training one month later, on August 2000. Since then, he has been involved in a series of technical assignments. Virts, for example, was the lead astronaut for the NASA T-38 program. He has also piloted the space shuttle, Endeavor, during a 13-day mission back in 2010, and will participate in the Expedition 43 that is expected to launch in March of 2015.