When John Glenn first orbited Earth in 1962, fellow Ohioan Kenneth Cameron ’78, SM ’79 was inspired to follow in his footsteps. But it wasn’t until he was an aeronautics and astronautics student at MIT that becoming an astronaut seemed possible. “I realized as an aviator and an MIT graduate, I actually had a shot,” he said.
Cameron would go on to spend 561 hours in space, completing three missions: as a pilot on STS-37, and commander on both STS-56 and STS-74. His travels to space included helping to establish the Gamma Ray Observatory, conducting atmospheric and solar research, and building a new module on the Russian Space Station Mir, after a year-long training program in Russia.
Beyond research, Cameron recalls memories of the lighter side of space. He had a good-hearted rivalry with a fellow crewmate he calls, “a graduate of a lesser engineering school in Indiana.” The pair blanketed their respective collegiate banners from MIT and Purdue on the space station and made sure they were seen by the station cameras and friends back home.
He also has advice for fellow astronauts: “When you lose things in orbit, always go to the filter in the front of the cabin fan. Everything finds itself there.” Watch Cameron joke about the dangers of drinking orange juice when first reacclimating to gravity and why astronauts take extra time before stepping on earth.
Astronaut Cameron’s testimonials are part of Space Shorts, a series of alumni astronaut stories, produced by Alumni Association videographer Brielle Domings. Watch all videos.