NASA has assigned the space shuttle crew for Endeavour's STS-126 mission, targeted for launch in September 2008. The mission will deliver vital equipment that will allow larger crews to live aboard the International Space Station.
Endeavour will carry up a reusable cargo module packed with fresh supplies and equipment, including additional crew quarters, a second treadmill, equipment for the station's regenerative life support system and spare hardware for the orbital laboratory.
U.S. Navy Capt. Christopher Ferguson, a native of Philadelphia, Pa., will command Endeavour's STS-126 flight. A veteran astronaut who joined NASA's ranks in 1998, Ferguson served as shuttle pilot for NASA's STS-115 flight aboard Atlantis in September 2006. His pilot on STS-126 will be U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Boe, a first-time spaceflyer who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2000.
Endeavour's STS-126 mission specialists are Navy Cmdr. Stephen Bowen, NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham, Army Lt. Col. Robert Kimbrough and Navy Capt. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper. In addition to Boe, Bowen and Kimbrough will be making their first spaceflight. Bowen was previously named to NASA's earlier STS-124 crew but has been reassigned to STS-126. The change will allow room for the STS-124 mission to rotate a space station resident, who will be named later, NASA said.
STS-126 will be the second spaceflight for Ferguson and Stefanyshyn-Piper, who flew together on STS-115 in September 2006 ? Stefanyshyn-Piper conducted two spacewalks during the earlier mission. This is also the second flight for Higginbotham, who flew on STS-116 in December 2006.
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