Moon shot



Bill Dutton is looking forward to a space launch –– not for himself, but for his nephew.

Jim Dutton, who lived for a while in Federal Way with his uncle Bill, is scheduled to begin astronaut training this summer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

He’s among candidates for a new mission that calls for humans to some day return to the moon, build a base there and eventually go to Mars.

“We’ve told him we want front-row seats for watching his launch,” Bill Dutton said.

If Jim Dutton, 35, is picked for a trip to the moon or beyond, he’ll follow in the footsteps of a boyhood idol. He’s too young to remember when Neil Armstrong became the first person to step on the moon, but Dutton had a poster of the famed astronaut on his bedroom wall while growing up in Eugene, Ore.

“I was always interested in outer space, always looking at the stars,” Dutton said in an article posted on NASA’s Web site. “When I was in seventh grade, I got an assignment to research my dream job. I thought, ‘Why not an astronaut?’”

Dutton went in that direction by joining the Air Force. Now a major, he’s a test pilot at Edwards Air Force Base in California. In the 1990s, he flew combat air patrols over the no-fly zone in Iraq following the Gulf War.

He has degrees from the Air Force Academy and the University of Washington. While studying aeronautics and astronautics at the latter, he and his wife, Erin, stayed temporarily at the home of Bill Dutton, who works in advertising and is a member of the board of Federal Way Boys and Girls Club. Erin worked at Lakehaven Utility District while her husband was attending the UW.

The couple and their three sons will live in Houston while he’s attending astronaut school.

With his background as a test pilot, Dutton wants to help develop the crew exploration vehicle planned for future moon trips.

“It’s going to be a real honor to make a contribution” to the work in the next few years that will set the course for space adventures, he said.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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