Commander Rick Sturckow and Astronaut Pat Forrester of NASA's recent STS-117 space shuttle mission visited NASA Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi on Thursday, Aug. 2, to thank SSC employees for the reliability of the space shuttle's main engines, which helped propel Space Shuttle Atlantis into orbit during its June 8 launch. Since 1975, all space shuttle main engines have been tested and proven flight-worthy at SSC.
"We really appreciate what you've done," Forrester said, "so that we have that good ride and a successful mission."
While at SSC, the astronauts talked about the highlights of their journey to the International Space Station and showed a video of breathtaking images they took of Earth while on board the shuttle. Sturckow pointed to the crew's completed work on the ISS during footage taken of the station as the shuttle departed for its return to Earth. STS-117's crew installed matching solar arrays and truss segments on the starboard side of the space station.
The astronauts held a question-and-answer session, and later met one-on-one with SSC employees and signed autographs at a reception held in SSC's visitor center, StenniSphere.
Sturckow and Forrester also presented "Silver Snoopy" awards to two SSC employees: Dewey L. Herring of Ocean Springs, Miss., Education Officer; and Bill St. Cyr of Slidell, La., who works in SSC's Science & Technology Division. The Silver Snoopy is the personal achievement award given to space program workers by NASA's Astronaut Corps. Astronauts always present the Silver Snoopy because it is the astronaut corps' own award for outstanding performance, contributing to flight safety and mission success. Less than 1 percent of the workforce is awarded the Silver Snoopy.
Other STS-117 crewmembers were: Pilot Lee Archambault; and mission specialists James Reilly II, Steven Swanson, and John D. Olivas. The June mission also carried Flight Engineer Clayton C. Anderson to the station. He is scheduled to return home aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour on mission STS-118, which is scheduled to launch Aug. 7.
During the STS-117 mission, Sturckow, Forrester and their fellow astronauts delivered the second starboard truss segment, the third set of U.S. solar arrays, batteries and associated equipment to the International Space Station. Sturckow was commander of the mission, and served as pilot on two previous missions, STS-88 in 1998 (the first International Space Station assembly mission), and STS-105 in 2001. Forrester, who also flew on NASA's STS-105 mission in 2001, performed two of STS-117's four spacewalks, accumulating 13 hours and 37 minutes of extravehicular activity time.
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