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From Loyola, To Space, To Mission Control, Alum T.J. Creamer Rises At NASA

Sept. 30, 2015

Loyola University Maryland men's tennis alumnus Timothy "TJ" Creamer was named a NASA flight director this month, becoming the space organization's first astronaut-turned-flight-director.

Creamer played tennis at Loyola as a freshman and sophomore from 1978-80 and graduated from Loyola in May 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. While on the Evergreen campus, Creamer was a member of Loyola R.O.T.C. program and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army following his graduation.

"T.J. was a very dedicated student while he was at Loyola," said current Greyhounds coach Rick McClure, who coached Creamer in 1979-80. "He was heavily involved with his studies and ROTC program, too, at Loyola, and we are very proud of all his accomplishments."

He entered the Army's Aviation School in December after graduation and was his school's Distinguished Graduate in August 1983. Creamer, who was born in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, but went to high school at Bishop McNamara in Maryland's Prince George's County, was assigned to the 1st Armored Division and later was affiliated with the 82nd Airborne, 17th Calvary and the 82nd Aviation Brigade.

After his assignment to the 82nd Aviation Brigade, he completed a Master of Science in Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992 was a member of the physics faculty at the U.S. Military Academy.

He began working for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston as a space shuttle vehicle integration test engineer in July 1995, and he was later selected as an astronaut in June 1998.

Creamer made his first spaceflight as a member of Expedition 22/23 from Dec. 21, 2009, through June 2, 2010. He launched aboard Soyuz TMA-17 in Kazakhstan, and two days later, he docked with the International Space Station.

For the next 161 days, Creamer lived aboard, and worked on, the space station as a flight engineer and NASA science officer. He became the first astronaut to send a live tweet from space orbit.

After returning to Earth, Creamer became the first astronaut to be certified as a payload operations director where he helped coordinate all space station-based science events.

In his new role, Creamer will direct teams of controllers, research and engineering experts and support personnel around the world from the Christopher C. Kraft Jr. Mission Control Center in Houston. As a flight director, he will be involved with space station cargo and crew vehicle integration while developing plans for future missions.

Creamer will be one of NASA's 27 flight directors after completing his training and certification, but he will be the first of the current and 86 past directors to have flown in space.