August 11, 2009

NASA assigns final shuttle crew

NASA says it has assigned Navy Capt. Mark Kelly to command the final space shuttle flight -- the 36th mission to the International Space Station.

Space shuttle Discovery's STS-134 mission, scheduled for launch Sept. 16, 2010, will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the station. The space agency said the instrument is a state-of-the-art cosmic ray particle physics detector designed to examine fundamental issues about matter and the origin and structure of the universe.

Retired Air Force Col. Gregory Johnson will serve as the shuttle's pilot, while Air Force Col. Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff and Andrew Feustel will serve as mission specialists, along with European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

The flight will include three spacewalks.

NASA said it has also assigned Air Force Col. Michael Good to replace Karen Nyberg on shuttle Atlantis' STS-132 mission, targeted to launch next May. Nyberg, being replaced due to a temporary medical condition, will be assigned to a technical role while awaiting a future assignment, officials said.