NASA astronaut Mark Polansky has left the agency. His last day with NASA was June 30.
Polansky is a veteran of three space shuttle missions. He flew as a pilot on the STS-98 mission in 2001 and served as commander for STS-116 in 2006 and STS-127 in 2009. Polansky ends his NASA career with more than 41 days in space.
“Mark is a remarkably talented individual,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office. “His skills as an aviator coupled with his engineering expertise were a valuable contribution to our team. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”
NASA astronaut Stephen Robinson has left the space agency. Robinson ends his 36-year NASA career as a veteran of three spacewalks with more than 48 days of spaceflight experience. Robinson will become a professor at the University of California at Davis in the fall of 2012. His last day at NASA was June 30.
Robinson began work with NASA as a cooperative education student in 1975 at the agency’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. He was selected for the astronaut corps in 1995. Robinson served as a mission specialist on four spaceflights, including space shuttle missions STS-85 in 1997, STS-95 in 1998, STS-114 in 2005 and STS-130 in 2010.
Former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander Alan “Dex” Poindexter died while on vacation with his family July 1 in Pensacola, Fla. A veteran of two spaceflights, Poindexter spent a total of 28 days in space.
Poindexter, a U.S. Navy captain, commanded the STS-131 space shuttle Discovery mission to the International Space Station in 2010, delivering more than 13,000 pounds of hardware and equipment. He was the pilot for shuttle Atlantis’ STS-122 mission that delivered and installed the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory on the station in 2008.
NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) with space shuttle Discovery mounted atop will fly approximately 1,500 feet above various parts of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area on Tuesday, April 17.
The flight, in cooperation with the Federal Aviation Administration, is scheduled to occur between 10 and 11 a.m. EDT. NASA Television and the agency’s web site will provide live coverage.
The exact route and timing of the flight depend on weather and operational constraints. However, the aircraft is expected to fly near a variety of landmarks in the metropolitan area, including the National Mall, Reagan National Airport, National Harbor and the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center. When the flyover is complete, the SCA will land at Dulles International Airport.
Leland Melvin, NASA’s associate administrator for education and a former space shuttle astronaut, will present a space shuttle tile to Bruce Monroe Elementary School at Parkview and speak to students on Monday, Feb. 27.
Representatives of the media wanting to attend the event should contact Ann Marie Trotta at 202-358-1601 or firstname.lastname@example.org by 9 a.m. Feb. 27. The school is located at 3650 Warder Street NW in Washington. The event begins at 1:30 p.m. and is expected to last 90 minutes.
Melvin will share with the students his experiences as a crew member aboard the space shuttle Atlantis on two missions, STS-122 in 2008 and STS-129 in 2009. He also will discuss NASA careers, including how to become an astronaut, and the opportunities available to students who pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies.
Shannon Lucid, a member of NASA’s first astronaut class to include women, has retired after more than three decades of service to the agency.
A veteran of five spaceflights, Lucid logged more than 223 days in space, and from August 1991 to June 2007, held the record for the most days in orbit by any woman in the world. Lucid is the only American woman to serve aboard the Russian Mir space station. She lived and worked there for more than 188 days, the longest stay of any American on that vehicle. Her time on Mir also set the single flight endurance record by a woman until Suni Williams broke it in 2006.
“Shannon is an extraordinary woman and scientist. She paved the way for so many of us,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of NASA’s Astronaut Office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. “She was a model astronaut for long-duration missions, and whether she was flying hundreds of miles up in space or serving as Capcom [capsule communicator] during the overnight hours for our space shuttle and space station crews, she always brought a smile to our faces. Like so many others, I always will look up to her.”
Jerry Ross, the first person to launch into space seven times, has retired from NASA. In a career that spanned more than three decades, Ross spent almost 1,400 hours in space and conducted nine spacewalks to rank third on the list of most extravehicular activity time in space.
“Jerry has been instrumental in the success of many of NASA’s human spaceflight missions and numerous spacewalks,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office. “Not only were his skills and operational excellence key in major spaceflight activities but his expertise and vigilance also helped all those who followed in his footsteps. We are the better for his years of dedication to the corps and NASA.”
Ross joined NASA in 1979 as a payload officer and flight controller. In 1980, he was selected as an astronaut. He and Franklin Chang-Diaz are the only two astronauts to have flown into space seven times. In addition to Ross’ spaceflight mission accomplishments, he went on to serve NASA in the critical role of managing the Vehicle Integration Test Office.