Carl Walz, ’77

For retired Air Force Colonel and astronaut Carl Walz, ’77, his journey to the stars began at Kent State. 

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Inspired by early astronauts from Ohio, such as John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, Carl Walz, ’77, was captivated by the idea of space exploration. Carl transferred from John Carroll University to Kent State University to join the U.S. Air Force ROTC and pursue a physics degree. His classes at Kent State prepared him for his first position as a second lieutenant with the U.S. Air Force working at a nuclear lab in California. In 1983, he attended the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School where he worked with jet planes and began to navigate his way to a space career. After four application attempts, he was interviewed, selected and began training as an astronaut with NASA. In 1993, Carl had his first mission to space, even stepping outside the space shuttle Discovery to participate in a seven-hour spacewalk. The view of Earth from the space shuttle was unlike anything he’d seen before, and seeing it out in the open was even more breathtaking. He also had the opportunity to sing lead vocals as part of Max Q (for maximum dynamic pressure), a band comprised entirely of astronauts that was started to boost morale following the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. During his career as an astronaut, Carl spent time with both the Space Shuttle Program and the International Space Station, logging a total of 231 days in space. Carl entered private industry in 2008 and officially retired in 2022, but he continues to act as an aerospace consultant. He enjoys spending time with his family, and he and his wife Pam even compete in ballroom dancing competitions from time to time.  Get to know Carl in his own words.

KSU: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
CW: Having my kids and grandkids all together at our house enjoying a nice dinner on the patio!

KSU: What is your favorite trait in others? 
CW: Kindness.

KSU: What trait about yourself do you like least? 
CW: Compulsive dishwashing.

KSU: Who has had the greatest influence on your life? 
CW: My wife Pam has been by my side since high school.

KSU: What is your favorite Kent State memory?
CW: Living at Silver Oaks as a newlywed in my senior year at Kent.

KSU: What is your favorite journey?
CW: Two answers - my wife and I took a cruise to Iceland and enjoyed both the scenery and the onboard ship amenities. Also, my long journey to the space station, from the four years of training to the six months in space.

KSU: What is your guilty pleasure? 
CW: Not a guilty pleasure, but my wife and I enjoy competing in ballroom dancing.

KSU: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
CW: My marriage to Pam, and my preparation and flight on the International Space Station.

KSU: If you could come back as one person, who would it be and why? 
CW: It would be great to come back as an astronaut in the future exploring Mars!

KSU: What part of your college experience most formed who you are today?
CW: My classes in ROTC and in physics put me on the path to NASA and human spaceflight. 



POSTED: Friday, May 31, 2024 10:49 AM
Updated: Friday, May 31, 2024 03:26 PM