The last mission for the U S Space Shuttle program is scheduled for lift off the morning of July 8. A Pennsylvania native will be the commander of the flight.
Christopher Ferguson, a retired Navy Captain, was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Archbishop Ryan High School and Drexel University. He joined NASA in 1998. The Atlantis flight will be his third space shuttle mission. He also served as commander of STS-126, the November, 2008 flight of Endeavour and pilot of STS-115, the September 2006 flight of Atlantis. Commander Ferguson served as spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) for STS-118, 120, 128 and 129.
Ferguson says the four member crew for this flight of Atlantis has a very busy, event-filled, packed 12 day mission that they will have to pull off before they can finish up on the runway and celebrate the 30 year history of the space shuttle program.
Ferguson believes the legacy of the shuttle program is the inspiration it provides. He remembers watching the very first shuttle launch on a television in a college cafeteria. He remembers thinking it would just be fantastic to be part of a program like that.
Ferguson says Atlantis has the right crew for the right time. He says they had only nine months to train, and four crew members to do it with, and they’ve managed to get an awful lot of work done. He adds it’s an experienced crew.
Commander Ferguson still has family living in the Philadelphia area. Prior to entering the space program, he was a Navy pilot. He received his commission from the Navy ROTC program at the University of Pennsylvania.
**Photos Courtesy of NASA.