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Air Force Academy Spirit

NASA assigns ’84 grad to pilot shuttle

National Aeronautics and Space Administration


WASHINGTON – NASA has selected an Academy graduate to pilot space shuttle mission STS-134 to the International Space Station.

Navy Capt. Mark Kelly will command the STS-132 mission. Retired Air Force Col. and Class of 1984 Academy grad Gregory Johnson will serve as the pilot. Mission Specialists are Air Force Col. Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff and Andrew Feustel. European Space Agency astronaut and Italian Air Force Col. Roberto Vittori also will serve as a mission specialist. 

NASA also announced Wednesday it is changing the designation of the STS-134 mission to STS-132. 

The flight will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS, to the station. The AMS is a state-of-the-art cosmic ray particle physics detector designed to examine fundamental issues about matter and the origin and structure of the universe.

The flight will include three spacewalks and the installation of the AMS to the exterior of the space station using both the shuttle and station arms. The AMS will be attached to the right side of the station’s truss, or backbone.

NASA also has named Air Force Col. Michael Good to replace Karen Nyberg on shuttle Atlantis’ STS-132 mission, targeted to launch in May 2010. Nyberg is being replaced due to a temporary medical condition. Nyberg will be assigned to a technical role while she awaits a future assignment.

Kelly previously served as the pilot of STS-108 in 2001 and STS-121 in 2006, and commander for STS-124 in 2008. He was born in Orange, N.J., and considers West Orange, N.J., to be his hometown. Kelly has a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, King’s Point, N.Y., and a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Colonel Johnson previously flew as a pilot on STS-123 in 2008. He was born in South Ruislip, Middlesex, United Kingdom, but graduated from Park Hills High School in Fairborn, Ohio. Johnson is a 1984 Air Force Academy graduate with master’s degrees from Columbia University and the University of Texas.

Johnson was pilot of STS-123 Endeavour is 2008, which completed both launch and landing at night. It was the 25th Shuttle/Station assembly mission. Endeavour’s crew delivered the Japanese Experiment Logistics Module – Pressurized Section, the first pressurized component of JAXA’s Kibo Laboratory, and the final element of the station’s Mobile Servicing System, the Canadian-built Dextre, also known as the Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator. In addition to pilot duties aboard Endeavour, Johnson was a primary robotic arm operator, employing both the Space Shuttle and ISS robotic arms in support of numerous tasks throughout the mission. The STS-123 crew performed a record five spacewalks while docked to the station. The crew also delivered Expedition 16 Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman, and returned to Earth with ESA’s Léopold Eyharts.

He has logged 4,000 flight hours in 40 different aircraft.  To date, Colonel Johnson’s space flight experience includes 250 orbits of the Earth, traveling over 6 million miles in 15 days, 18 hours, 10 minutes and 54 seconds.

Another bluesuiter going to space again is Colonel Fincke.  He is a veteran of two long-duration missions aboard the space station. He served as the NASA science officer and flight engineer on Expedition 9, and commander for Expedition 18. He was born in Pittsburgh and considers Emsworth, Pa., his hometown. He has an Associate Science degree from El Camino College in Torrance, Calif., two bachelor’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and master’s degrees from Stanford University and the University of Houston – Clear Lake.

Chamitoff, also a veteran of a long-duration spaceflight, served as NASA science officer and a flight engineer on Expeditions 17 and 18. He was born in Montreal and grew up in San Jose, Calif. He holds a bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic State University, a master’s degree from the California Institute of Technology, a second master’s degree from UHCL and a doctorate from MIT.

STS-134 is the second mission for Feustel, who flew as a mission specialist on STS-125 in May. He has an Associate Science degree from Oakland Community College, Mich., a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., and a doctorate from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Feustel considers Lake Orion, Mich., his hometown.

Vittori is a veteran of two prior spaceflights to the space station aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. He was born in Viterbo, Italy. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Italian Air Force Academy and earned master’s degrees from the University of Naples and University of Perugia.

This will be the second mission for Good, who flew on STS-125. He was born in Parma, Ohio, and considers Broadview Heights, Ohio to be his hometown. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Notre Dame.

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