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October 8, 1997

Debra Rahn
Headquarters, Washington DC
(Phone: 202/358-1639)

Eileen Hawley
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Release: H97-230

Cockrell Named Chief Astronaut

Three-time Shuttle veteran Kenneth D. Cockrell has assumed the role of Chief of the Astronaut Office, replacing Robert D. Cabana (Col., USMC).

"Bob's performance as Chief of the Office has been outstanding, and now he can turn his full attention to STS-88," said David C. Leestma, Director of Flight Crew Operations.

Cabana, who served as Chief Astronaut since mid-1994, is training for Shuttle mission STS-88, the first United States assembly flight to build the International Space Station. STS-88 is scheduled for a July 1998 launch.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of being Chief of the Astronaut Office, and have mixed emotions about stepping down," Cabana said. "I know the astronaut corps will give its full support to Ken and have every confidence he will do a super job. Now it's time for me to focus my attention on the first Space Station assembly mission."

Cockrell first flew as a mission specialist on the crew of STS-56 aboard Discovery on a mission to study the Earth's atmosphere and later was the pilot on STS-69 in September 1995, the second flight of the Wake Shield Facility. In late 1996, he commanded the crew of STS-80, the third flight of the Wake Shield Facility, which studied the use of the ultra-vacuum of space to develop high-quality semiconductor materials.

For complete biographical information on Cockrell, or any astronaut, see the NASA Internet biography home page at URL:


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