Colleagues of Dr. Kjell Lindgren say his medical skills are out of this world. And they're right—literally.
Lindgren, board certified in emergency and aerospace medicine, was one of three astronauts who flew into space last week. The NASA crew reached the International Space Station after blasting off from Kazakhstan.
Lindgren received his emergency medicine training at Hennepin County Medical Center, a public hospital in Minneapolis. Those who worked with him at the hospital said he was a star doctor long before reaching the outer orbit of Earth.
“When you interact with Kjell, he had this built-in professionalism and focus I've seen in very few individuals,” said Dr. William Heegaard, an emergency medicine doctor at HCMC.
After a three-year stint at HCMC, which included one year as its chief resident, Lindgren studied informatics and then moved on to the University of Texas for his aerospace medicine residency. He's been training for space since 2009, when NASA selected him as one of its own.
The latest spaceflight was delayed in May because of a separate spacecraft malfunction. Lindgren and his crew will be hovering over Earth for five months.
In the runup to the launch, HCMC colleagues gave shoutouts to Lindgren on Twitter and other social media by posing next to large cardboard cutouts of him. Staff also celebrated with a launch party, which included moon pies and “Star Wars”-related videos. (Heegaard said that “Star Wars” is one of Lindgren's favorite movies.) They plan on sending more videos and selfies to Lindgren while he's up in orbit.
“There is a lot of excitement,” Heegaard said.