For Baltimore County Bar Association member Bill Wiseman and his wife Judy, this headline means much more than the rest of us could ever know. It’s not just a line from a cartoon or something Superman shouts in comic books. And unless you’ve just not been paying attention or don’t know the Wiseman’s and didn’t make the connection, you know exactly why it’s so important. It is because Bill and Judy’s son Reid is literally up, up and away! But this time it is not in the cockpit of a Navy fighter jet, which is pretty amazing in its own right.This time Mr. Wiseman’s son has traded up just a bit, from 35,000 feet to more than 200 miles above the earth. Astronaut and Navy Commander G. Reid Wiseman, one of NASA’s finest, now floats in space aboard the International Space Station.
The last five years or so have been quite a whirlwind for Bill Wiseman and his family. I had the good fortune to work with Bill when he was Zoning Commissioner and I was his deputy from 2007 to 2011. In 2009, when Reid was going through the astronaut selection process, I would hear the latest updates from Bill. First, Reid was one of about 6,000 applicants for just nine spots. He made the cut-downs to several hundred and then to several dozen candidates. When Reid told his dad (who then told me) that he had been selected for NASA’s astronaut program, I was not surprised. Bill is one of the luckiest people I know. He has a great wife, had a wonderful career with Baltimore County and managed to raise two extremely successful sons. All I can say is, thank goodness for Judy.
But of course, it wasn’t luck. No doubt, Reid deserved and earned his selection. After graduating from one of the state’s finest high schools, Dulaney High School, in 1993, Reid attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He participated in ROTC before moving on to the Navy and flight training after graduation in 1997. Reid was designated a Naval Aviator in 1999 and flew the F-14 Tomcat and the FA-18F Super Hornet. He was also assigned as a Test Pilot in 2004. While stationed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, in 2006 he earned a Master’s Degree in Systems Engineering from Johns Hopkins.
He served five deployments, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Reid was deployed to the Middle East when he was selected for astronaut training. He reported to the Johnson Space Center in Houston in August 2009 and completed astronaut candidate training in May 2011.
Following training, it was uncertain when, or even if, Reid would get his opportunity to travel in space — the last space shuttle launch was in 2011. Reid spent the past three years supporting space missions from Johnson Space Center.
He finally got his opportunity on May 28, 2014 as part of Expedition 40/41, joining Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev and astronaut Alexander Gerst of Germany. The men were launched into space and to the Space Station aboard the Soyuz spacecraft, which took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Russia. Liftoff was at 3:57 PM local time, with a perfect trajectory as the spacecraft left the earth’s atmosphere, and a smooth ride at a speed of 18,000 miles per hour.
The week of the launch, a large white banner reading “Dulaney High School Salutes NASA Astronaut Cmdr. Reid Wiseman, USN – Class of ’93” hung at the school’s entrance. The school also held a launch party in its satellite (no pun intended) cafeteria. The party was attended by present and former teachers and students at Dulaney and other nearby schools, as well as friends of Bill and Judy and Reid, and still others in the community that simply wanted to witness the historic event. BCBA member Tim Kotroco also organized a launch party, a big screen television live feed from NASA and plenty of food and drink.
Shortly after the launch, proud father Bill Wiseman phoned the WTP party. It was just after 2 a.m. in Kazakhstan, and with Reid safely on his way, Bill proclaimed that “All is well, and where the hell is the champagne!”
Over the next six months, Reid and the others aboard the International Space Station will conduct experiments and maintain the space station before returning to earth sometime in November 2014. You can follow Reid on Twitter at @astro_reid. I’m sure I join everyone in the BCBA in telling Bill and Judy Wiseman how happy we are for them, how proud we are that a native son is in space and that we wish Reid a successful mission on the Space Station and a safe journey home.
The author is Deputy Legislative Counsel to the Baltimore County Council.