Mt. Juliet's Barry “Butch” Wilmore pilots the STS-129 mission to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle Atlantis.
By TOMMY BRYAN
Mt. Juliet High graduate Barry “Butch” Wilmore became the first Wilson Countian in space Monday afternoon with the near-perfect launch of the space shuttle Atlantis from Pad 39 at the Kennedy Space Center.
Wilmore serves as the pilot of the STS-129 mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff was televised live on HDNet.
Wilmore, a graduate of Mt. Juliet High and a former Golden Bear football player, is a decorated U.S. Navy fighter pilot.
The mission will return station crew member Nicole Stott to Earth. STS-129 is slated to be the final space shuttle crew rotation flight to or from the space station.
Atlantis will deliver parts to the space station, including a spare gyroscope. The mission will feature three spacewalks.
STS-129 is the 31st shuttle mission to the station.
Wilmore is reportly taking a Mt. Juliet football jersey with him into space -- and will return the item to the school in an assembly later this year.
Several of Wilmore's former coaches were on hand at the Kennedy Space Center for Monday's launch.
Married and the father of two daughters, Wilmore is a member of the Tennessee Tech Sports Hall of Fame for his play as a member of the Golden Eagle football team.
He is a veteran fighter pilot for the US Navy, having flown over 600 missions off the decks of USN aircraft carriers.
Sports Editor Tommy Bryan may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.