January 17, 2011

Bicycle Accident Grounds NASA Space Walker

Astronaut Tim Kopra, scheduled to be lead spacewalker on space shuttle Discovery next month, was hurt Saturday in a bicycle accident that could impact his space duties; Kopra's injuries were not life-threatening.

"However, there could be an impact to his duties for shuttle Discovery's STS-133 mission," the agency said in a statement. "That possibility still is being evaluated," NASA said. Details of the accident were not available due to privacy concerns, NASA said on its website.

These would be the second and third space walks for Kopra, who performed a spacewalk lasting 5 hours, 32 minutes during the STS-127 mission in July of 2009. This will be the first space walk for Al Drew, 47, also a mission specialist and a retired Air Force colonel, are expected to spend 13 hours outside the space station on two space walks, NASA said.

The primary goal of STS-133 is to deliver the new Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) to the space station. The PMM will provide additional storage for the station crew and experiments may be conducted inside it, such as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology.

STS-133 has Discovery carrying a crew of six. A humanlike robot will also go along for the ride and become a permanent resident of the space station, NASA said.

Prior to being selected for the astronaut corps in 2000, Kopra worked as a vehicle integration test engineer where he primarily served as an engineering liaison for space shuttle launch operations and space station hardware testing, NASA said.

His first spaceflight was as a flight engineer during Expedition 20 in 2009. Kopra logged two months in space, including one space walk during STS-127, the mission that brought him to the station. The crew for Discovery's final flight also includes the commander, veteran astronaut Steve Lindsey, pilot Eric Boe (Colonel, USAF) and mission specialists Dr. Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott.


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