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NASA Assigns Grads To Pilot Space Shuttle close window

NASA Assigns Grads To Pilot Space Shuttle

WASHINGTON - Air Force Academy graduates will pilot two upcoming space shuttle missions.

NASA announced the crews for space shuttle missions STS-130 and STS-131 Dec. 5, which include the Academy's latest astronauts and one Colorado Springs native.

The STS-130 mission will deliver a third connecting module to the International Space Station and a seven-windowed cupola to be used as a control room for robotics.

Marine Col. George Zamka will command the shuttle Endeavour during STS-130, targeted for launch in December 2009.

Colonel Terry Virts, Jr., Class of 1989, will serve as the pilot. Mission specialists are NASA astronauts Air Force Lt. Col. Robert Behnken, Nicholas Patrick, Kathryn Hire and Stephen Robinson. This will be Colonel Virts' first trip to space. He was born in Baltimore and considers Columbia, Md., his hometown. Colonel Virts holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a master's degree in aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The STS-131 mission will deliver research and science experiment equipment, a new sleeping area and supplies to the station in a logistics module carried in the shuttle's payload bay.

Navy Capt. Alan Poindexter will command the shuttle Atlantis during STS-131, targeted for launch in February 2010.

Air Force Lt. Col. James P. Dutton, Jr., Class of 1991, will serve as the pilot. Mission specialists are NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio, Clayton Anderson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. Dutton, Metcalf-Lindenburger and Yamazaki will be making their first trip to space.

Colonel Dutton joined NASA in 2004. His hometown is Eugene, Ore. He has a bachelor's degree in astronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Colonel Dutton's crew also includes a Colorado Springs native.

Metcalf-Lindenburger was born in Colorado Springs and considers Fort Collins her hometown. She was selected as an astronaut in 2004, and has a bachelor's degree in geology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.

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