STS-122 -- Mission to the International Space Station
The crew of space shuttle mission STS-122 has completed its mission! Seven astronauts were on space shuttle Atlantis for this mission. The commander was Steve Frick. Alan Poindexter was the pilot. The mission specialists were Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Leopold Eyharts, Stanley Love and Hans Schlegel.
Each crew designs a patch that shows things about its mission. More than 500 years have passed since Columbus sailed to the New World. The STS-122 crew took a new module called “Columbus" to the International Space Station. The ship on the patch stands for the trips that early explorers took to reach North America. The space shuttle shows that exploration is still going on today.
The crew had a lot to do to prepare for the flight. Many of the astronauts train in the water at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The NBL is a big swimming pool where astronauts practice working in space. Underwater cameras send views of the crew working below to television monitors above the water. Astronaut Leland Melvin sat at the monitors and watched some of the astronauts as they were training.
Choosing food for the mission also took up some time. Commander Steve Frick sampled some of the food he might eat while in space. A nutritionist checked Commander Frick's list to make sure he picked healthy foods before they were packed for the mission.
Astronauts practice every part of the trip, including getting ready to return to Earth. Astronaut Leopold Eyharts worked in a training version of the shuttle at Johnson Space Center.
Astronaut Rex Walheim, STS-122 mission specialist, got help putting on a training version of the Extravehicular Mobility Unit spacesuit. The EMU spacesuit is very heavy and hard to work with on Earth. Using the suits is much easier once the crew is in orbit where objects are weightless.
All crew members have to know what to do in case of emergencies. Astronaut Stanley Love learned how to use a fire extinguisher that is made to use in space.
Learning how to work in space is an important part of astronaut training. Two workers at NASA helped astronaut Hans Schlegel put on a training version of his spacesuit before he went into the water at the NBL. Working in the water helps the crew feel almost weightless, so the crew members can practice what they are going to do once they get into space.
Astronaut Alan Poindexter was the STS-122 pilot. He had to practice in a shuttle trainer to prepare to pilot a real space shuttle.
All of this training helped the STS-122 shuttle crew complete its mission.
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