Skip Navigation Links

From Officer to Astronaut

Stefanie Senkow
December 22, 2021

Andre DouglasNEW LONDON, Conn – A Coast Guard Academy education can pave the way to a career as an astronaut. Academy alum Andre Douglas recently accepted a position as a NASA astronaut. Born into a Coast Guard family, Douglas shares his journey from sea to space.

How did your mechanical engineering education prepare you for NASA?

The Academy’s mechanical engineering degree is all encompassing when it comes to math and science. Cadets learn energy transfer, motion, power, kinematics, structures, dynamics, and a whole list of other topics that are very applicable to NASA operations.

How did you make the transition from Coast Guard officer to NASA astronaut?

After the Academy, I got stationed in Cape Canaveral, Florida on the Coast Guard Cutter VIGILANT. I then enrolled in an advanced education program and earned two master's degrees from the University of Michigan. From there I had a follow-on tour at the Marine Safety Center in Washington, D.C. In 2015, I decided to pursue my passion for space exploration, so I found the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and started working in the Ocean Systems group. We worked on undersea vehicles, submarines, and other maritime platforms for the Department of Defense. I then transitioned to the Space Exploration Sector where I supported various space exploration proposals and projects.

Tell us about your role at NASA?

I’ve been selected as a NASA astronaut candidate to begin about two years of basic training flying T-38s, and learning about the International Space Station systems, robotics, spacewalking, and Russian language, along with survival training. After completing that, I will be eligible to be assigned to NASA spaceflight missions to the International Space Station or to the Moon with the Artemis program.

How did the Coast Guard prepare you for NASA

My career in the Coast Guard gave me the confidence to apply because it prepared me for nearly everything. We are given a lot of responsibility at an early age in the Coast Guard, so it requires us to grow up fast. Additionally, you learn how to adapt and thrive throughout various environments, especially at sea.

Any advice for prospective cadets inspired by your story?

Take advantage of all opportunities you come across and keep a positive mental attitude. These two things will allow you to reach your full potential and will attract like-minded-individuals who will want to support you on your journey. At the same time, follow your gut and your heart. You will perform best when things feel right, and you are excited about it.

See how Douglas got his start with Mechanical Engineering.