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Trident Scholar Program
Picture Name

Lieutenant Colonel Nicole V. Aunapu-Mann, USMC

NASA Astronaut


Our Captain, little Poopie. It took us four years to drag you out of Rickover, but all the effort was worth it to see you dance. Your accomplishments have made you scholar-athlete of the millennium, but on the field no one can match your strength and determination. It’s good to know you always, “got my back.” We know you’ll go on to be an extraordinary pilot all the way to Commandant, but just remember who taught  you how to walk. Never forget Malawai, Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate Icing, Battalion plebe of the year, polar bearing, Huckleberry Finn, party sprints, Cadets in the hotel hallway, Pearl River, Cabo and Cozumel, cone-stinker-cone, beer bunny, pregamers, from Marine to SEAL you always got the best. Good luck in the Marine Corps and remember everyone puts their shirt stays on one leg at a time.

Nicole’s Trident Scholar research was titled, “Improved Turbine blade Cooling Using Endwall Flow Modification.”

...& Now

Following graduation from the Naval Academy, Lt Col Aunapu-Mann was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps in 1999. Following graduate school, where she earned a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering with a specialty in Fluid Mechanics from Stanford University, she completed The Basic School(TBS) in Quantico, Virginia and reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for flight training in 2001. She earned her wings of gold as a Naval Aviator in 2003 and reported to VFA-106 for training in the F/A-18C. She began her operational flying career in 2004 with the Thunderbolts of VMFA-251 based  from Beaufort, South Carolina. During this assignment, she deployed twice with CVW-1 aboard the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) and flew combat missions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Upon return from her second deployment, Major Mann reported to the United States Naval Test Pilot School, Class 135, at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

In June 2009, Lt Col Aunapu-Mann reported to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO THREE (VX-23) as an F/A-18 Test Pilot/Project Officer. While at VX-23, Mann executed a variety of flight test, including loads envelope expansion, flying qualities, carrier suitability and ordnance separation in the F/A-18A-F. In the spring of 2011, Mann assumed duties as the VX-23 Operations Officer. In July 2012, she was assigned to PMA-281 as the Joint Mission Planning System-Expeditionary (JMPS-E) Integrated Product Team (IPT) Lead and JMPS Fleet Liaison Officer when selected as an astronaut candidate. She has accumulated more than 1,500 flight hours in 21 types of aircraft, 200 carrier arrestments and 47 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lt Col Aunapu-Mann was selected in June 2013 as one of eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class.  Her Astronaut Candidate Training included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, Extravehicular Activity (EVA), robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training, and water and wilderness survival training. She completed astronaut candidate training in July 2015.

In August 2018, NASA announced the nine astronauts that will crew the test flights and beginning missions for the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, of which Lt Col Aunapu-Mann is a part.

Lt Col Aunapu-Mann’s awards include two Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps  Achievement Medals and various unit commendations.

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