NASA Picks Crew for Final Space Shuttle Mission
A twin, three space station veterans, a Hubble repairman and a veteran shuttle pilot were named to a flight that might be the final mission of NASA's three-orbiter fleet.
Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, whose twin brother, Scott, is also an astronaut, will command STS-134, a mission now set to launch on Sept. 16, 2010.
The flight aboard Discovery is the last of seven remaining on NASA's current schedule.
However, there is a chance the mission to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station might move up to July 29, 2010.
In that case, STS-133 -- now the last shuttle mission without an assigned crew -- would move back to mid-September 2010.
"It's still up in the air," said Dan Huot, a spokesman for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The STS-134 mission was added to NASA's shuttle manifest earlier this year after President Barack Obama OK'd one additional shuttle mission if it could be done safely and affordably by the end of 2010. The AMS payload is a state-of-the-art cosmic ray particle physics detector designed to examine matter as part of a probe into the origin and structure of the universe.
Also flying aboard the mission:
Pilot Gregory H. "Box" Johnson. Johnson is a retired Air Force colonel who piloted Discovery on a March 2008 station construction mission.
Mission Specialist Michael Fincke. An Air Force colonel, Fincke was a flight engineer and expedition commander on two visits to the station. He flew twice on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. This will be his first shuttle mission.
Mission Specialist Greg Chamitoff. Born in Canada to a Jewish family of Russian origins, Chamitoff served as a station flight engineer for six months in 2008. He was the first astronaut to bring bagels up to the outpost.
Mission Specialist Andrew "Drew" Feustal. An auto mechanic-turned-astronaut, Feustal performed three spacewalks in May on NASA's fifth and final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission.
Mission Specialist Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency. An Italian Air Force colonel, Vittori flew 10-day science missions to the station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2002 and 2005.
The STS-134 flight will include three spacewalks to deliver and install the spectrometer on the starboard side of the station's central truss.