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Full Coverage: Space Survivor Dan Barry

(Warning: the following articles may include spoilers.)

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Astronaut forced out Survivor's airlock


March 10, 2006 -- Entering his 14th day as a contestant on the CBS network's reality TV show, Survivor Panama: Exile Island, retired astronaut-turned-castaway Dan Barry was feeling pretty good about his current situation.

"I am solid with five people. I know there is one person in front of me for sure if we were going to lose again," said Barry just moments before he was voted out.

"It's incredible how fast things turn," Barry continued.

The day had started out well. Sitting alone on the beach of his team's La Mina camp, Barry was left alone to enjoy the sunrise.

"It's beautiful out here, another beautiful day in paradise."

Turning to the camera as last night's episode began, Barry reflected, "...taking a quiet moment to enjoy it."

"I've been within 200 miles of this spot many times," said the veteran space explorer, smiling while pointing straight up, "vertical."

Barry had good reason to feel secure. Four days less than half way through the game's 39-day isolated stay, he had survived twice being voted off at the Tribal Council and he felt a strong bond with the three remaining men on his team. If someone was going next, it would be Sally, a 27 year old social worker and the odd-gal out.

As such, Barry felt it was due time to let the others know of his pre-Survivor profession.

"Well it turns out I did a little more than just work on space shuttles," explained Barry of the "NASA engineer" cover title he had been using up to then. "Well, I had an opportunity to be aboard a few of 'em... while they were flying."

Named a NASA astronaut in 1992, Barry flew three times over his 13 years with the space agency. His first flight in 1996 was aboard Endeavour. He then flew twice again on Discovery in May 1999 and then in August 2001. His two later missions were to the International Space Station. In total, he logged over 734 hours in space with nearly 26 of them outside the spacecraft.

"I've been to orbit three times on the space shuttle, have done four spacewalks, been to the space station twice," Barry recalled to his teammates Nick and Austin. Terry, the third La Mina man and a former F-14 pilot, had been let in on Barry's secret identity when the two first met 14 days earlier.

"It wasn't like hiding anything from you," explained Barry. "It was because I didn't want to be the 'astronaut guy'. It was fun to be [just] Dan."

The news left the two younger men in awe of their new found and well-traveled friend.

"I never thought I'd even meet an astronaut, never mind live with one," confided Nick. "I mean the guy has looked at the Earth from space, so he's an incredible guy and I knew that from the start but to learn that, and how humble he is about being an astronaut is pretty amazing."

Austin, the 24 year old author, responded more colorfully.

"He actually has dined with Neil Armstrong. 'Danfuego' is a stud. I told you from the the get-go, he's a pimp."

Over the first five episodes, Barry was shown tackling (with his team) Reward and Immunity challenges that involved digging up wooden snakes, launching balls by slingshot and balancing buckets as part of a brigade. Barry's strength wasn't his physical force but his mental acuity.

So when the sixth episode's joint Reward and Immunity challenge relied on Dan and Sally to solve a puzzle, it played right into Barry's favor. The Panamanian barbeque and Immunity Idol was good as La Mina's. And therein lied Barry's fate.

"How can we lose a challenge with a puzzle when we have a NASA engineer on our team. I mean how do you do that?" asked Austin of Terry after their loss.

Barry acknowledged his failure.

"My whole job [of being an astronaut] is about having a game plan in place and if its not quite working out, stepping back and I didn't do that. Instead, I picked up the puzzle piece and started looking around at random," told Barry to Terry. "You know what, if I did that in space, [we would] die."

Barry would have been safe had it not been for another twist to the game. The winning team, Casaya, had the added bonus of selecting a La Mina castaway to be sent to the show's title-inspiring Exile Island. Choosing Sally, they had in effect spared her from certain elimination. Sally would be absent from that evening's Tribal Council, leaving the four men to pick amongst themselves.

Barry expected a tie vote — the younger Austin and Nick versus Terry and himself. Austin had other plans.

"This is a young peoples game right now and we can take you a lot further in this than [Barry] can," reasoned Austin to Terry. "If Sally was here, obviously we would take her [out], but physically, [Dan's] the weakest."

"I know this has to be incredibly difficult on Terry to even consider eliminating Dan. But someone has to go home and I don't want it to be me," said Austin to the camera.

Terry agreed but also respected the bond he had formed early with Barry.

"Dan and I have something even more in common than anybody else, soaring through all kinds of heights above the Earth, and having to vote him off is a highly emotional decision because he's something else. Dan has the right stuff."

At the Tribal Council, Barry's fate was clear.

"[My team was] very upfront with me to tell me that it's my turn tonight to go. And today, three performed their job and two people didn't. One of those two people is immune and the other one is sitting right here. And I am willing to take responsibility."

"If it was my choice this would go two [versus] two, and we'd have a little challenge going on. I expected to last a lot longer than this," lamented Barry.

In the end though, Barry had few regrets.

"I wish them all the best. It was a wonderful adventure. I loved every day out here. And the only thing I really have to say is thank you to my family for letting Dad go off on another crazy [adventure]."




Barry's bumpy path to Survivor success

March 3, 2006 -- After two consecutive weeks losing immunity and voting off tribe mates, three-time Space Shuttle astronaut-turned-castaway Dan Barry and his La Mina teammates found themselves the victors this week on CBS's Survivor Panama: Exile Island.

In the wake of their last Tribal Council that sent Ruth Marie home — a vote that went against Dan's word to Ruth and advice to his alliance — La Mina's 'spared' Sally floundered in the Reward Challenge, repeatedly failing to catch a slimy fish tossed by Dan, costing her team the bounty.

Facing the Immunity Challenge with illness-weakened teammates and once again losing Terry to the show's title-inspiring Exile Island, La Mina rallied as Dan, Nick and Terry dove to the ocean floor to free coffin buried skull puzzle pieces. Despite a bump to the head suffered after rising to the surface under the boat, Dan and the two La Mina men returned their skulls with time to spare.

Back on the beach, Sally and Austin assembled the skulls into a pyramid before the competing tribe Casaya, winning immunity and another week to "outwit, outplay and outlast" on the show.




Barry's balance lost on Survivor

February 24, 2006 -- Three-time Space Shuttle astronaut- turned- castaway Dan Barry lost more than his footing during the 4th episode of Survivor Panama: Exile Island, which aired Thursday on CBS.

Dan's La Mina tribe lost both of this week's Reward and Immunity challenges, the latter due in part to Dan falling off a balance beam as he raced to finish a water bucket brigade.

Facing his second consecutive tribal council, Dan found himself balancing the desires of his self-started all-male alliance — to vote off South Carolian shopping center developer Ruth Marie — with his own pledge to protect her, which he offered at the start of Thursday's show. Instead, he urged his fellow tribesman to vote off stronger but less loyal, Sally.

"I don't think Sally feels like a part of this team," said Dan, "and I think when a merge [of competing tribes] comes, she will drop us like a stone. But with Ruth Marie, I think she'll stay with that group of five all the way to the end."

Ultimately, Dan honored his word and voted for Sally, but could not convince the others to act accordingly and Ruth Marie's torch was extinguished. Meanwhile, La Mina's leader (and the first person Dan revealed he was an astronaut) Terry followed the clues to the only Immunity Idol hidden away on the title-inspiring Exile Island.




"Lots of Space" for astronaut on Survivor

February 17, 2006 -- The "La Mina" camp shelter, where three-time Space Shuttle astronaut Dan Barry resides on Survivor Panama: Exile Island, became a whole lot roomier this week, as the tribe won "home improvement" supplies but was also forced to vote out one of their own.

By catching five slingshot-launched balls (while balancing on beams over the water) before the other team, Dan's La Mina castaways claimed victory in the Reward Challenge, taking home a kerosene lantern, blankets, pillows, water canisters, rope and a tarp. Using the latter to fortify their roof, Dan could not have been happier with the tarp's fit.

"We have a nice domed interior as opposed to [one] slumping so there's lots of space inside," he said.

Victory turned to defeat however during the Immunity Challenge, where the tribes wrestled each other (literally) for the right to stay.

Facing the Tribal Council for the first time since arriving, Dan and the members of his self-started alliance voted as an all-male block, eliminating Misty Giles, a "smart as hell" 24 year old engineer from Dallas, Texas.




Astronaut wrangles snake, wins Immunity

February 17, 2006 -- Four tribes became two as the castaways faced a schoolyard-style pick at the start of the second episode of Survivor Panama: Exile Island, which aired Thursday evening on CBS.

Retired three-time space shuttle astronaut Dan Barry was second to the last man selected but he ultimately returned to the La Mina camp from where his prior tribe of "Older Men" was based.

In an attempt to expand upon an alliance begun last week, Dan and former F-14-turned-airline pilot Terry Deitz reached out to new team members Nick Stanbury and Austin Carty, but the two "younger men" hadn't the time this episode to decide their strategy.

Terry and Dan wrangled the award — fishing gear — for their tribe by finding the last two of six wooden snakes in the first challenge. During the second contest, La Mina was literally pulled by Terry to an early lead, securing their, and Dan's immunity for another week.

On CBS's Survivor website, prior season castaway Dr. Scout Cloud Lee wrote that Dan's performance surprised her. "He's a tough competitor and is smart enough to keep his mouth shut and simply celebrate successes. I think he'll make it to the merge [of tribes] for sure."




Astronaut survives 1st week on reality TV

February 3, 2006 -- Exile Island, the 12th and latest entry in CBS's Survivor reality TV series debuted Thursday night with retired three time space shuttle astronaut Dan Barry among the castaways.

Separated into gender and age grouped teams, Barry's older men La Mina camp got off to a strong start, finishing the first challenge before the other three "young women," "older women" and "younger men" tribes of four people each.

Between the initial contest that began the show and Survivor's trademark "immunity challenge", which decides which group would have to vote someone "off the island", Barry and fellow La Mina castaway Terry Deitz bonded as Dan shared he was an astronaut with the former F-14 turned American Airlines pilot. Barry's space flight experiences — including flying twice to the International Space Station — are a secret to the other 14 castaways.

The older men ended the episode by coming in second, which earned their immunity, leaving Barry to "outwit, outplay and outlast" until next week's show.




Astronaut is castaway for TV's Survivor

January 9, 2006 -- Dan Barry, who flew on three space shuttle missions including two flights to the International Space Station, has joined a 16-member crew for a different type of frontier mission.

As announced on CBS's The Early Show on Monday, Barry was named to the 12th season cast of the reality show Survivor. Based in Panama, the aptly-titled Survivor Panama: Exile Island will debut on Thursday, February 2 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Like prior season's castaways, Barry will try to "outwit, outplay and outlast" the others for a $1 million top prize. New this time around, he and his fellow contestants will face possible banishment to an island, hence the season's Exile moniker.

Selected by NASA as an astronaut in March 1992, Barry was a crew member on STS-72/Endeavour, STS-96/Discovery, and STS-105/Discovery, logging over 734 hours in space, including four spacewalks. Barry retired from the astronaut corps and space agency in April 2005.

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