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Allard Beutel
Headquarters, Washington

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Oct. 16, 2006
Next Shuttle Commander Available for NASA Satellite Interviews
New Jersey native Mark Polansky, commander of NASA's next space shuttle mission in December, will be available for interviews by satellite from 7 to 8:45 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Polanksy will command Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-116, an 11-day mission to the International Space Station to rearrange the complex's power and cooling systems. The changes will bring online electricity generated by a second giant set of solar panels added to the station during a September shuttle flight. The changes will almost double the electrical power available to the station's systems. Discovery also will bring a new crew member to the station to begin a six-month stay, and bring home a station resident who has been in orbit since July.

Polansky is a native of Edison, N. J. He received bachelor's and master's degrees from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., in 1978. He served as an Air Force test pilot before joining NASA in 1992 as a research aircraft pilot.

To participate in the Oct. 18 interviews, media should contact the newsroom at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, at 281-483-5111 by 5 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Polansky's interviews will be carried live on the NASA TV analog satellite AMC-6, at 72 degrees west longitude; transponder 5C, 3800 MHz, vertical polarization, with audio at 6.8 MHz.

Selected as an astronaut in 1996, Polansky will be making his second space flight on STS-116. He first flew as pilot of the shuttle Atlantis on mission STS-98 in February 2001, a 13-day flight that delivered the U.S. Destiny Laboratory to the station.

Polansky's crew aboard Discovery will include Pilot Bill Oefelein and mission specialists Bob Curbeam, Nick Patrick, Joan Higginbotham, Suni Williams and Christer Fuglesang, a European Space Agency astronaut. Williams will remain aboard the station to begin a six-month stay. European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter, currently aboard the station, will return to Earth on Discovery.

For Polansky's biographical information, visit:

For NASA TV downlink, schedules and streaming video information, visit:

For more information about STS-116 and its crew, visit:

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