The Citadel

The Military College of South Carolina


Reports & Cadet Blog


The Citadel is following the work of NASA astronaut Col. Randy Bresnik (Citadel Class of 1989) from training, to the launch, to his time commanding the International Space Station, to when he is safely back on Earth. (SCROLL DOWN TO READ ENTRIES)

Cadet Angelica McNerny, who is a senior in the South Carolina Corps of Cadets is reporting on Bresnik's training and Citadel Cadet Angelica McNernyexpedition. McNerny is originally from Las Vegas, and is expected to commission into the U.S. Airforce upon graduating in May of 2017 to begin Space Systems Operations training. She is attending The Citadel on a USAF scholarship.

McNerny is a Citadel Honors College and Citadel Scholar Scholarship cadet majoring in physics. She serves as a research assitant for the Planetary Science Institute and is engaged on ongoing work with the Atsa Suborbital Observatory, a project led by The Citadel's Dr. Luke Sollitt.

McNerny serves as first sergeant for Victor Company at The Citadel, is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, and an editor for The Shako. She is a Gold Star and Deans List student.

Check back here for intermittent updates on Citadel Space Star, Col. Randy Bresnik, from Dec. 2016 to the fall of 2017.


We arrived in Houston, Texas in the evening on Wednesday, Dec. 7, excited to meet with Col. Randy Bresnik and to be in Lone Star State. As I settled into my hotel room, I got a surprising phone call from none other than The Citadel Space Star himself, Col. Bresnik. After giving me a warm welcome to Houston, we went over the next day’s itinerary and it began to dawn on me that I was on the phone with one of the handful of men and women who’ve travelled beyond the sky. I went to sleep that night eagerly anticipating the following day.

Early Thursday morning, after Citadel videographer Sam McAdams and I checked in and got our security badges, we were lead to Johnson Space Center’s Building 9. It houses the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, a full-scale replica of the International Space Station, which I’ll refer to as the ISS for the sake of brevity. We briefly met with Col. Bresnik and then he returned to his training on the mockup.

Citadel team meets astronaut Randy BresnikFrom Left: Videographer Sam McAdams, Cadet McNerny, Col. Randy Bresnik

The astronauts practiced various emergency scenarios including quarantining atmospheric and ammonia leaks and detecting/extinguishing fires onboard the ISS. Col. Bresnik and his colleagues were equipped with manuals and a training staff of more than fifteen individuals. I was astounded to see the amount of detail that not only comprises the physical mockup itself, but the training as well. I will be sharing more of those details in future blog posts and videos.

As I observed the emergency training, I was particularly impressed by the cooperation and teamwork of the astronauts. The American and Russians went back and forth between languages to solve the problem at hand quickly and efficiently. The execution of their duties appeared seamless as they ticked off a very long list of complex objectives— almost second nature due to their attention to detail and copious amounts of practice. Watching the scenarios served as a reminder of just how volatile the interplanetary environment can be. There is no “astro-carpenter” that comes up to fix the ISS when something breaks, or “astro-firefighter” that flies up when something starts burning. The astronauts must be self-reliant and industrious, and above all confident.

Not many people can say they’ve met a real live astronaut. I’m thankful every day for the opportunity afforded to me by Col. Bresnik, the Johnson Space Center, Space Center Houston, and The Citadel. Thanks for checking out our blog and stop by soon for more on our #CitadelSpaceStar!


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Hello everyone,

It seemed a bit surreal, but I was with Col. Bresnik at Johnson Space Center, along with his teammates and a large NASA training crew on the day it was announced that American hero and space pioneer, John Glenn died. He was 95 years old.

Part of a statement by President Obama honoring John Glenn included this:

"John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond--not just to visit, but to stay. Today, the people of Ohio remember a devoted public servant who represented his fellow Buckeyes in the U.S. Senate for a quarter century and who fought to keep America a leader in science and technology. Our thoughts are with his beloved wife Annie, their children John and Carolyn and the entire Glenn family. The last of America's first astronauts has left us, but propelled by their example we know that our future here on Earth compels us to keep reaching for the heavens. On behalf of a grateful nation, Godspeed, John Glenn."

Col. Bresnik was kind enough to share his thoughts about one of the world's first astronauts. Just click the video below to watch.

Very respectfully - Angelica




While visiting Johnson Space Center in Houston recently, I learned a lot about Col. Randy Bresnik’s upcoming space mission. Mission 53 will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is located in Kazakhstan and has been the launch site for Soviet and Russian space missions since 1957. TheCol. Randy Bresnik Citadel Space Star astronaut launch is set for late May, with a possible delay of two months. Col. Bresnik, who is commanding the expedition, will be traveling aboard the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft with two additional crew members, Sergey Ryazanskiy who is Russian and Paolo Nespoli who is Italian.

Once docked with the International Space Station (ISS), the crew will participate with Mission 52 until Col. Bresnik assumes command of Mission 53 in September. He will be the first Marine Corps. Officer to command a mission on board the station and the second astronaut to celebrate his 50th birthday in space!

Col. Bresnik will be incredibly busy while orbiting above us. Much like cadets at The Citadel, astronauts have their daily schedules planned down to the minute — including their free time. His previous mission, STS-129, in November 2009 lasted only 11 days and included two extravehicular activities, better known as space walks. Due to its longer duration, the Expedition 52/53 astronauts will have significantly more time for a variety of duties and activities. That includes observing the Earth from the ISS’s windowed cupola, something Col. Bresnik mentioned that he is especially looking forward to when I spent the day with him to observe training at the Johnson Space Center. During this time, he and his fellow crew members will be using photography and social media to give us a glimpse into their experiences in space and show us their unique view of the Earth below.

Cadet Angelica McNerny with Citadel Space Star

Keep checking back for more information and updates as our Citadel Space Star’s launch creeps closer.



Col. Bresnik shows me the equipment he uses to train for life is space. The astronauts use the same equipment on the ground that they will use on the space station.

I got to try the equipment too!

Col. Randy Bresnik showing Cadet Angelica McNerny space exercise equipment

MESSAGE 8: NASA astronauts and scientists meet at The Citadel to discuss the future of space exploration during 10th Annual Principled Leadership Symposium

What a day we had! One of the few humans who has walked on the moon, Brig. Gen. Charlie Duke, Col. Bresnik, NASA mission director and Citadel alumnus ('85) Steve Odendahl, NASA planetary geologist, Noah Petro, and for a panel at The Citadel in March to discuss resilience in space exploration. It was amazing to be a part of the compelling discussion, led by Dean John Weinstein who heads The Citadel School of Science and Mathematics.

Col. Bresnik joined us remotely from his training in Russia as he continues preparations for what now is expected to be a mid-July expedition to the International Space Station. Hearing Brig. Gen. Duke, Col. Bresnik, and the remarkable two scientists discuss the current challenges for space exploration, as well as their hopes for the future was enlightening for the standing-room only audience. You can watch the discussion here.

MESSAGE 9: Heads up on april 20th launch that could include Col. Bresnik, plus a new July launch date for Expedition 53

Angelica McNerny here with an update about Col. Randy Bresnik (@AstroKomrade) and his trainingNASA Expedition 51 the Citadel and launch dates with NASA. We heard from him this week.

“New experience for me. We are headed head down to Baikonur Cosmodrome as the backup crew to the two gents that will be launching 20th of April, Expedition 51," reported Col. Bresnik in a recent email.

We will be watching to see if he takes part in Expedition 51. The launches are amazing to watch livestreamed on NASA TV. You can see them at this link. If Col. Bresnik is not needed for Expedition 51, he will return to his training to take over command of the International Space Station on Expedition 53, which no take place on July 28, 2017, after being pushed back from the original date in May.

Much more to come on our Citadel Space Star blog, including a look at how anyone can “play” astronaut at Space Center Houston ─ which would make a great summer trip.

And, don’t forget to follow Col. Bresnik’s work on The Citadel’s Instagram and Twitter using #CitadelSpaceStar as well as with his handle @AstroKomrade .

Very respectfully,


MESSAGE 10: Learning the history of America's space exploration while preparing for Col. Bresnik's July expedition.

Hello everyone –

I am happy to say that I am now Second Lieutenant Angelica McNerny, having commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army just before graduating from The Citadel in May. I will keep providing updates about our Citadel Space Star, until a new cadet takes over when Col. Bresnik is on the International Space Station. Col. Bresnik was on standby as a backup crew member for Expedition 51 which launched in April but was not needed. He is now back on track for Expedition 53 in July.

Part of my research in preparing to blog about Col. Bresnik’s upcoming expedition took me to Independence Plaza located in Space Center Houston, which is close to Johnson Space Center. For science geeks (and everyone else too), Space Center Houston is a remarkable and fun place to visit to learn about America’s space exploration – perfect for a summertime family outing.

Independence Plaza houses the world's only shuttle carrying aircraft display with a mock shuttle attached. Visitors are allowed inside the craft and the mock shuttle to get a glimpse of the extraordinary feat of modern engineering. As a physics major, I enjoyed the educational displays housed within the craft. They demonstrated some of the scientific principles I've learned through my education right here at the Citadel.

NASA Astronaut Brian Duffy Astronaut Brian Duffy at Space Center Houston

If you plan in advance of your visit, you can register for Lunch with An Astronaut. I also attended a presentation by Col. Brian Duffy, USAF (Ret.), a NASA astronaut who was speaking to visitors at Space Center Houston. He earned many honors during his time in the Air Force, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was selected by NASA for astronaut training in 1985 and logged more than 40 days in space as a veteran of four space flights. He talked about serving as spacecraft communicator in Mission Control numerous times and as Deputy Director (acting) of Johnson Space Center at one time. He is now a vice president with Lockheed Martin Corporation. It was exciting to hear him speak.

I'll show you more of the center later. As our space program moves forward, places like Space Center Houston help us remember the milestones we've conquered through the shuttle program and how far we've come. For more on this, check us out on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or Instagram using #CitadelSpaceStar!

I hope you enjoy this mini-video from Independence Plaza.

Very respectfully,


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