Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bowen replaces Kopra on Discovery's flight

NASA astronaut Steve G. Bowen was selected this morning to replace one of space shuttle Discovery's six crew members just weeks before their scheduled launch.

Bowen will replace Timothy Kopra who fractured his hip following a bicycle accident on Saturday, as one of the four mission specialists.

Bowen began training with his new crew today.

"Tim is doing fine and expects a full recovery, however, he will not be able to support the launch window next month," chief of NASA's Astronaut Office Peggy Whitson stated today. "If for some unanticipated reason STS-133 slips significantly, it is possible that Tim could rejoin the crew."

Bowen will perform the two planned spacewalks in which Kopra had trained for during the 12 day flight to the International Space Station.

Bowen has flown to the space station twice prior aboard Endeavour in 2008 and last spring aboard Atlantis.

Bowen will become one of only a few who have flown to space on back-to-back flights.

Kopra launched to the space station in July of 2009 aboard the STS-127 flight, and returned to earth on the very next shuttle flight to the station, STS-128.

Discovery's crew includes commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and mission specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott.

Discovery's launch remains planned for no earlier than February 24 from the Kennedy Space Center. The orbiter will then dock two days later on a resupply flight and two install a new storage module to the station.

"If you thought of the space shuttle as a dump truck, the MPLM is the thing on the back that carries all the stuff. It’s going to be packed up pretty full," Bowen commented recently about the Multipurpose Logistics Module. "It has a lot of supplies."

It was former chief of the astronaut office, Lindsey selected Bowen for his first space flight.

When asked what is the worst part of being an astronaut, "I can tell you the worst part of my job. It’s things like this, smiling and being nice in front of cameras. That’s the worst part of the job."

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