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NASA Names Crew for Rescue Mission or Potential Added Shuttle Flight

Space Shuttle Atlantis. Credit: NASA

NASA announced the names of the four astronauts who will make up the crew of STS-335, the rescue mission that would fly only if there is a problem with the current final scheduled shuttle flight, Endeavour’s STS-134 mission. Additionally, the four crew members will prepare for the “final final” shuttle flight which may be added to the launch manifest, depending on what Congress decides on adding one more mission since Atlantis will be ready to fly.

“These astronauts will begin training immediately as a rescue crew as well as in the baseline requirements that would be needed to fly an additional shuttle flight,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations. “The normal training template for a shuttle crew is about one year prior to launch, so we need to begin training now in order to maintain the flexibility of flying a rescue mission if needed, or alter course and fly an additional shuttle mission if that decision is made.”

Having a “Launch On Need” crew ready for a rescue flight is based on recommendations made after the loss of space shuttle Columbia in February 2003. NASA has trained a launch on need crew to be ready to fly in the event of irreparable damage to a shuttle while in orbit. Typically, the next crew to fly serves as the rescue crew for the current mission.

The four astronauts are:

Chris Ferguson, a retired U.S. Navy captain and veteran of two previous shuttle missions, would command the flight. Astronaut and U.S. Marine Col. Doug Hurley would serve as pilot, and astronauts Sandy Magnus and retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rex Walheim would be the mission specialists.

If required, the STS-335 rescue mission would launch on shuttle Atlantis in June 2011 to bring home the STS-134 crew from the International Space Station. STS-134 currently is scheduled to lift off on Feb. 26, 2011, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If converted to an additional shuttle flight, STS-335 would be redesignated STS-135 and targeted to launch in June 2011.

Source: NASA

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • DrFlimmer September 15, 2010, 3:10 AM

    How about flying the mission anyway. Just name it a rescue mission, although there’s nothing to save… however, you save some time for the science on the ISS, since it can last longer with this additional shuttle mission (larger spare parts can be delivered… like an ammonia pump). So, it’s a rescue mission in any event. Just fly it!

  • Dominion September 15, 2010, 4:05 AM

    shouldn’t there be a “launch on need” rescue flight standing by for the “final, final” flight? and since it’s ready maybe it should fly anyway. it would be the final, final, final flight. of course, there would be a need for a launch on need rescue flight ready for that. and since THAT flight is ready it could fly anyway and be the final, final, really final flight. …and the needy launch would be needed….OOO! that’s the final, really final, final to infinity plus one flight…..ummm… maybe we should just put adults in charge of this and see if some real progress can be made?

  • stan9fos September 15, 2010, 6:16 AM

    I have to wonder, was that photo taken with an installed camera, or did someone shimmy out to the end of the crane arm with a Nikon under their arm for some candid snaps? Probably the former, although the latter conjures up quite a mental image! (Could have been taken from the roof of the VAB during rollout, also… Probably most likely, as I don’t think the pad crane is that high.) Great shot at any rate.

  • DrFlimmer September 15, 2010, 7:24 AM

    @ Dominion

    As you might have noticed, this “indeed very very very last” flight (;)) of Atlantis will only see 4 astronauts on board instead of the usual 7. If something happens these 4 can be brought back to earth by Soyuz spacecraft.

  • Dominion September 15, 2010, 9:20 AM

    @ Drflimmer

    yah. that makes sense. i just had WAY too much coffee this morning.

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