|By Nate Luscombe|
SOUTH HADLEY When the latest season of Survivor kicks off on Feb. 2, residents of South Hadley may see a familiar face.
Dan Barry, 52, is scheduled to be on the show this season.
On 'Survivor: Panama Exile Island,' players will be stranded on an island off the coast of Panama. The 16 players begin the game as four tribes: older men, older women, younger men, and younger women. At least one contestant each week will be banished from the main island, and sent to an island several miles away.
The show's taping has already been completed, but Barry is not available for interviews until his part of the show is done whether he's voted off at Tribal Council, or wins the $1 million prize.
Barry is a retired astronaut, who has logged over 734 hours in space, including four space walks. He retired from NASA in 2005.
Barry also owns his own company, Denbar Robotics. According to his bio on CBS.com, Barry's research has been supported by the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Grass Foundation, and the American Heart Association of Michigan.
Barry received his B.S. in electrical engineering in 1975 from Cornell. He's also earned a master's of engineering degree, a master of arts degree in electrical engineering/computer science, a doctorate in electrical engineering/computer science, and a doctorate in medicine.
He was offered tenure at the University of Michigan in 1992, after teaching as an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and in the Bioengineering program. At the same time, NASA offered him the opportunity to become an astronaut. He chose to train at the Johnson Space Center in Texas.
Ann Easley, Barry's niece, who lives in California's Bay Area, said "Uncle Dan" was the closest relative outside her immediate family. She used to live with Barry during the summers.
"He's kind of like an older, older brother," she said.
Easley said she thinks her uncle wanted to be on the show because of the strategy involved.
"He's a competitive person," she said. "He has the personality to challenge himself. He's always been a man who is a thrill seeker, but always with knowledge."
Easley said Barry has a very good chance to win.
"He's a team player," she said. "You have to be to be an astronaut. He's a well thought-out, well put together person. Anything he's achieved, he's earned. It's not luck. He's earned it."
"His whole plan in life is to get to a successful ending," she added. "If he has the road to success, it's because he's built the road, mapped it out, paved it, and driven on it."
Despite being so close to her uncle, Easley said she doesn't know the outcome of the show.
"We can't wait to watch," she said.
Easley said her family in the Bay Area is planning to have a kick-off party for the premiere. "Hopefully it's not a literal kick-off party," she said, meaning she hopes Barry lasts more than one episode.
Barry lives in South Hadley with his wife, Sue, two children, Jenny and Andy, and a dog, Windy.