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While growing up in the Murfreesboro Road area,Barry Wilmore was like most kids and wanted to be either a policeman, a fireman or an astronaut.

He settled on astronaut.

On the way to achieving his lifelong dream, Wilmore also developed into an outstanding football player at Mt. Juliet High School and Tennessee Tech.

Wilmore then graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1994 with a masters degree in aviation systems.

He is still a big football fan today and set to make his third journey into space.

Wilmore, 51, and two Russian cosmonauts will travel to the International Space Station on Sept. 25. Wilmore will assume command of the expedition in November.

The crew will return to Earth in March 2015.

Because of his love for football, Wilmore had NASA arrange to provide the new SEC Network in the space station and plans to watch Tennessee Tech's games on the Internet.

"I don't watch a lot of sports — my wife might not agree with that — but I do like to watch football, the SEC Game of the Week, and I try to catch Tech every chance I get," Wilmore said.

Wilmore is a Navy captain who has logged 259 hours in space.

After joining NASA in 2000, he flew aboard the space shuttle Atlantis and in 2009 piloted his first space shuttle flight.

He expects a much different experience in space this time.

"During the shuttle mission, roughly two weeks in length, there was a lot to do in a short period of time," Wilmore said. "They pack the schedule full to get everything done that you need to get done. It leaves very little self time to just look out the window; I think the most time I had to sit and look out was maybe 20 minutes. So I look forward to sticking my nose in the window for at least two revolutions around the earth, for about three hours, and watching the beauty of the Earth go by."

Wilmore is scheduled to make his first space walks on this mission — one in January and another in February — in order to make adjustments to the space station's docking apparatus.

"They typically timeline the space walks for about six hours," he said. "By the time you do everything, you can expect to be outside for about 10 hours."

Wilmore attended Una Elementary until he was in the third grade, when his family moved to a small farm in Mt. Juliet.

He started playing football in junior high and by the time he got to high school was a starter on both sides of the line — offensive guard and linebacker — for Mt. Juliet (1978-80).

Wilmore was recruited by Sewanee and Carson-Newman and even received a letter from Vanderbilt.

He decided to attend Tennessee Tech because of the engineering program and walked on with the football team.

By the end of his freshman season, he had cracked the starting lineup at linebacker.

"I was small, I was slow and I was fat," Wilmore said. "But I had a nose for the ball. I had the determination that I could somehow figure out a way to get to the ball."

As a senior, Wilmore recorded 143 total tackles, which ranks third on the school's all-time single-season tackles list.

He made 21 tackles in a game against Austin Peay, which is the second-most in the program's history.

In 2003, Wilmore, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering, was inducted into the Tennessee Tech Sports Hall of Fame. In 2009, a reception took place at Mt. Juliet High to honor Wilmore, and he was presented with the key to the city.

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