As a child, Col. Edward Michael “Mike” Fincke launched model rockets with his father from a park near Pittsburgh. Little did he know that years later he would be among an elite group of spacewalkers.

Today, Col. Fincke has spent a total of 381 days, 15 hours and 11 minutes in orbit and logged 48 hours and 37 minutes of extra-vehicular activity time on nine spacewalks.

He will share his experiences with West Virginia University students, alumni, faculty and members of the Morgantown community during a special lecture hosted by the WVU Alumni Association on Friday, Sept. 27, at 1:30 p.m. in the Mountainlair Ballrooms.

Fincke was a crewmember on STS-134, the last flight of NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2011, where he served as a mission specialist on the flight deck, performing spacewalks and robotics arm operations. The STS-134 crew delivered the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a state-of-the-art cosmic ray particle physics detector, to the International Space Station.

Prior to STS-134, Fincke completed two tours on the space station of 6 months each where he participated in station construction, maintenance and science operations. Both missions included launches and landings on the Russian TMA Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan. During his first mission, Expedition 9 in 2004, he served as the NASA science officer and flight engineer. On his second mission, Expedition 18 in 2008-09, he served as the station commander readying the International Space Station to expand from 3-person operations to a 6-person crew. His combined EVA experience on the space station included 6 spacewalks.

Selected by NASA in April 1996, Fincke has served in numerous roles in the organization, including serving as an International Space Station Communicator, a member of the Crew Test Support Team in Russia and as the ISS crew procedures team lead, among other positions. He was commander of the second NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO 2) mission, living and working in an underwater habitat for seven days in 2002.

Fincke, a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on an Air Force ROTC scholarship with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics and a Bachelor of Science in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Immediately following graduation, he attended a summer exchange program with the Moscow Aviation Institute in the former Soviet Union, where he studied cosmonautics.

In 1990, he received his Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University and entered the United States Air Force where he served as a Space Systems Engineer and a Space Test Engineer at Los Angeles Air Force Base, and as a Flight Test Engineer at Edwards and Eglin Air Force Bases, flying in F-16 and F-15 aircraft. In January of 1996, he reported to the Gifu Test Center, Gifu Air Base, Japan where he was the United States Flight Test Liaison to the Japanese/United States XF-2 fighter program. Fincke has more than 1,000 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft types.

Fincke has received numerous honors and awards, including two NASA Distinguished Service Medals and two NASA Spaceflight Medals. He is a recipient of the first ISS Leadership Award, a United States Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, three Commendation Medals, two Achievement Medals and various unit and service awards. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the United States Air Force ROTC, Squadron Officer School and Test Pilot School Programs and the recipient of the United States Air Force Test Pilot School Colonel Ray Jones Award as the Top Flight Test Engineer/Flight Test Navigator in class 93B.

Fincke also holds an Associate of Science in Earth Sciences (geology) from El Camino College in Torrance, Calif., and a second Master of Science in Physical Sciences (planetary geology) from the University of Houston – Clear Lake in Texas.

During the last flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, Fincke flew a WVU flag with him in the Shuttle bringing new meaning to the “Flying WV.” The flag will be presented to the WVU Alumni Association by Fincke on Saturday, Sept. 28, during the WVU-Oklahoma State University game. The flag will be on permanent display at The Erickson Alumni Center.

The Sept. 27 lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, visit



CONTACT: Tara Curtis, WVU Alumni Association

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