WASHINGTON - NASA astronauts of the STS-126 space shuttle mission will begin a new journey next week - an 11-day trip to greet U.S. military personnel serving overseas. Shuttle Endeavour's crew will pay a special visit to troops in Germany and the Middle East from Jan. 26 to Feb. 5.
The trip is sponsored by Armed Forces Entertainment, the lead Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas. The shuttle crew members visiting the troops are Navy Capt. Chris Ferguson, who commanded the flight, Air Force Col. Eric Boe, who served as the pilot, and Mission Specialists Donald Pettit, Navy Capt. Steve Bowen, Navy Capt. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Army Lt. Col. Shane Kimbrough.
"We are really looking forward to visiting the men and women who support and defend our country overseas," Ferguson said. "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."
During their visit with the troops, the shuttle crew will present an overview of the STS-126 mission, which completed a 16-day flight in November 2008. The mission delivered equipment to the International Space Station that will allow the outpost to house up to six astronauts for long-duration stays.
"This is the first time in Armed Forces Entertainment's 55-year history that we have hosted astronauts on a tour to visit our troops overseas," said Air Force Col. Edward Shock, chief of Armed Forces Entertainment. "And with this crew, it makes it even more poignant - since five of the six crew members are U.S. military themselves. They know the risks and the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make, and have a deep appreciation for their dedication."
For more information on the astronauts' overseas tour and updates, visit:
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