El Camino College contributed to sending Michael Fincke into space.

Fincke, who believes in lifelong learning, is an astronaut who served two tours aboard the International Space Station as a flight engineer and commander, flew on one space shuttle mission and at one time held the American record for most time in space.

Fincke attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, and he graduated in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics as well as a bachelor’s degree in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences. That was followed by a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Stanford University in 1990.

Before earning his second master’s degree in science at the University of Houston, Fincke attend El Camino College for an associate degree in Earth sciences, which he earned in 1993. He also studied Japanese while at the campus.

After graduating from Stanford, he entered the Air Force and became a flight test engineer at Edwards and Eglin Air Force bases, where he flew in F-16 and F-15 aircraft. Fincke joined NASA in 1996 and completed two years of training and evaluation at the Johnson Space Center. He was the space station science officer and flight engineer in a 2004 expedition, he was the commander of a 2009 expedition and he served as a space shuttle mission specialist in 2011.

In all, Fincke has a total of 365 days, 21 hours and 32 minutes in orbit, and has logged 26 hours and 12 minutes of extravehicular activity time on six spacewalks.  

Fincke returned to El Camino College as a guest speaker at the college’s annual Space Science Day in 2012.