Astronauts named to key space station missions
Posted: February 27, 2002

NASA has named 16 crewmembers for Space Shuttle missions to deliver key structural hardware to the International Space Station in 2003.

The orbiter missions are designated STS-115, to carry a six- person crew, which is slated for launch in early 2003; and STS-116, with a core crew of four, which will ferry three- person, space station expedition crews to and from the station in spring 2003.

STS-115, led by veteran shuttle commander Brent W. Jett Jr. (Commander-Select, USN), will deliver and attach the second port truss segment to the station. Jett commands a crew of five including his pilot, Christopher J. Ferguson (Cmdr., USN), who will make his first flight into space. STS-115's veteran astronauts -- Joseph R. Tanner, Daniel C. Burbank (Cmdr., USCG) and Steven G. MacLean, Ph.D., (Canadian Space Agency) -- are joined by first-time flyer Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper (Cmdr., USN).

Jett is a second-time shuttle commander, having led the STS- 97 mission in 2000. He served as pilot on STS-81 in 1997 and STS-72 in 1996. Tanner previously flew aboard STS-97 in 2000, STS-82 in 1997 and STS-66 in 1994. Burbank served on STS-106 in 2000, while MacLean served as a Canadian payload specialist in 1992 on STS-52. Ferguson is a member of the 1998 astronaut class and Stefanyshyn-Piper joined the astronaut corps in 1996.

STS-116, commanded by veteran astronaut Terrence W. Wilcutt (Col., USMC), will deliver the third port truss segment to the station and attach it to the section delivered by STS- 115. Joining Wilcutt on the STS-116 core crew are first-time pilot William A. Oefelein (Lt. Cmdr., USN), veteran mission specialist Robert L. Curbeam (Cmdr., USN) and mission specialist Christer Fuglesang, Ph.D., a Swedish astronaut from the European Space Agency (ESA) on his first mission to space.

Wilcutt commanded two previous shuttle missions, STS-106 in 2000 and STS-89 in 1998. He was pilot aboard STS-79 and STS- 68 in 1996 and 1994 respectively. Curbeam served as mission specialist on STS-98 in 2001 and STS-85 in 1997. Oefelein is a member of the 1998 astronaut candidate class and Fuglesang entered the NASA astronaut corps in 1996 after becoming an ESA astronaut in 1992.

A crew-rotation mission, STS-116 will carry Expedition Eight Commander C. Michael Foale, Ph.D., and flight engineers William S. McArthur (Col., USA, ret.) and Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev (Col., Russian Air Force) to the station for their long-duration stay. The mission will return Expedition Seven crew members Yuri I. Malenchenko (Col., Russian Air Force), Sergei Moschenko and Edward T. Lu, Ph.D., to Earth.