October 10, 1997
Headquarters, Washington, DC
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
Astronaut Andrew S.W. Thomas, Ph.D., has been named as the final U.S. crew member to live and work aboard Russia's Mir space station.
Thomas will launch aboard Endeavour as a member of the STS-89 crew in January 1998 to begin a four month stay on Mir. He has been training in Russia since January of this year as the backup to Dr. David Wolf, who began his tour aboard Mir on Sept. 28.
"Andy's assignment to Mir provides a great deal of flexibility to support crew activities on board," said David C. Leestma, director of Flight Crew Operations. "I have every confidence in his abilities. He will be a valuable addition to the crew."
Thomas, recently in the U.S. for science training to support his Mir mission, returned to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, outside Moscow in early October. Joining Thomas on the return trip to Russia was astronaut James S. Voss (Col. USA), who will serve as Thomas' backup. Voss has been training in Russia as backup to Michael Foale. Thomas will join previously named STS-89 crew members Commander Terrence W. Wilcutt (Lt. Col., USMC); Pilot Joe Edwards (Cmdr., USN); and Mission Specialists Bonnie J. Dunbar, Ph.D.; Michael P. Anderson (Major, USAF); and James F. Reilly, II, Ph.D. Wolf will return to Earth aboard Endeavour as he completes his four-month Mir mission.
Thomas' scheduled departure from Mir next May will conclude more than two years of continuous American presence on Mir, which began in March 1996 with the arrival of astronaut Shannon Lucid. Thomas will come home aboard Discovery with the crew of STS-91 in May 1998.
- end -