The crew of STS-126, who returned to Earth in November 2008, will be embarking on a new mission on Jan. 26. Commander Chris Ferguson (Capt., USN), Pilot Eric Boe (Col., USAF) and Mission Specialists Donald Pettit, Steve Bowen (Capt., USN), Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper (Capt., USN) and Shane Kimbrough (Lt. Col., USA) will be traveling to Germany and the Middle East for two weeks to greet U.S. troops serving overseas.
Typically the crew members' postflight activities consist of visiting their hometowns and schools; this will be the first time astronauts have gone on a trip like this. During their visit to the troops, the STS-126 crew members will present a brief synopsis of their mission, which laid the foundation to double the size of the crew aboard the International Space Station.
We are really looking forward to visiting the men and women who support and defend our country overseas. Although our jobs are different, we know it’s tough being away from family and friends – and being far from home. As a military family, we know that support and a pat on the back go a long way. – Capt. Chris Ferguson, commander of STS-126