PHOTO COURTESY NASA, Photographer: Robert Markowitz FORMER DEBARY RESIDENT ALL GROWN UP — Luke Delaney, 42, is one of NASA’s 10 newly selected astronaut candidates announced Dec. 6. Born in Miami, Delaney grew up in DeBary attending Enterprise Elementary School, Deltona Middle School and DeLand High School, and graduating from Deltona High School. At 18, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, with a dream of someday becoming an astronaut. Nowadays, Delaney lives in Virginia with his wife, but he still makes it down to Florida every now and then. “That’s where my roots are,” Delaney said of his hometown.

Luke Delaney, 42, is a retired Marine Corps pilot and a former DeBary resident.

He’s also on track to realize his lifelong dream of traveling in space. Delaney is one of NASA’s small group of newly selected astronaut candidates. 

Grinning ear-to-ear while speaking with The Beacon via Zoom from Houston, Delaney’s excitement about finally realizing his dream of becoming an astronaut was hard to hide.

“Anything I say to try to characterize it is going to be probably underestimating it,” Delaney said. “It’s still hard to believe it’s real, it really is.”

Delaney is among 10 candidates for astronaut school selected from a crop of more than 12,000 applicants from around the U.S. His selection was announced Dec. 6 in Houston by NASA Administrator and former Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.

“Today we welcome 10 new explorers, 10 members of the Artemis generation, NASA’s 2021 astronaut candidate class,” Nelson said. “Alone, each candidate has ‘the right stuff,’ but together they represent the creed of our country: E pluribus unum — out of many, one.”

The Artemis Program is NASA’s next generation of missions, with a goal of establishing a presence on the moon and, eventually, Mars.

Becoming an astronaut has been Delaney’s goal since he first joined the Marines, he told The Beacon.

“I enlisted at 18, and I knew there might be an avenue to make it to an astronaut position there,” he said. “Growing up in Florida, the Space Coast is right there. I watched some shuttle launches, and I think those were really impressive. They kind of always stuck with me.”

While his childhood dream of flying one of NASA’s space shuttles is no longer an option since the fleet has been retired, he believes his more than 3,700 hours of flight experience has helped make him ready to fly the latest and greatest space-faring vehicles. 

Delaney is ready for anything NASA throws his way, but, he said, visiting the moon is his ultimate goal. 

“If I could be a part of establishing a presence on the moon for NASA so that we can set up to move beyond and explore the solar system, I can’t even imagine that,” Delaney said.

That’s the next step for NASA and humanity, he said, explaining, “to get established in a persistent presence somewhere, so we can build and learn how to best move outward in the solar system.”

His selection as an astronaut candidate means beginning a rigorous two-year training regimen that will include aviation, language, robotics, survival and geology training. 

Nowadays, Delaney lives with his wife in Virginia. After retiring from the Marine Corps in June 2020, Delaney took a job as a research pilot at the NASA Langley Research Center. 

“A position became available and, as soon as I knew that it was a good fit for me, I jumped on it,” Delaney said.

His parents still live in DeBary. Luke Delaney has two daughters, one of whom lives in Virginia, while the other lives in Florida.

No matter how far he goes from DeBary, or from Earth for that matter, Delaney said he’ll always remember his hometown.

“I’m excited to represent DeBary. It’s such a small town still in my mind, because what I have is all the childhood memories,” Delaney said. “I’m looking forward to coming back to Florida’s Space Coast one day and being on a launch.”


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