NASA Podcasts

Stott's Journey Home: A First and a Last
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As space shuttle Atlantis landed at the end of mission STS-129, astronaut Nicole Stott completed a first -- and a last.

NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida welcomed her home as its first former employee to live and work aboard the International Space Station.

Stott's return also marked another significant event -- the last time a station crew member is scheduled to travel to or from the station aboard a space shuttle.

She joined the space station's six-person crew when she launched aboard shuttle Discovery in August.

Her launch came more than two decades after she began her NASA career at Kennedy.

It was a career that brought her high-level experience with both the shuttle and the station.

Stott began working at Kennedy in 1988 as a shuttle program operations engineer.

Before heading to space this summer, the native of Clearwater, Florida talked about her time at Kennedy.

Stott: "After growing up in Florida and seeing shuttles launch while I was at university, I got a job at Kennedy Space Center in shuttle operations... I mean, what cooler place could you be working? And every step of the way there, I was just thrilled with the jobs I had."

Stott went on to serve as landing convoy commander, and later as shuttle Endeavour's flow director.

Stott: "I’m working on a space shuttle. I’m on the runway for landing... I’m in the control center where we’re launching the shuttle. I mean, it didn’t seem like it could get any cooler than that... And fortunately, I had people that I considered to be mentors that I worked with there."

During her last two years at Kennedy, she joined the Space Station Hardware Integration Office.

Stott was selected by NASA as an astronaut in July 2000.

While other employees from Kennedy have gone on to become astronauts, Stott's time living and working aboard the station makes her experience unique.

As the STS-129 mission ended and the landing convoy she once commanded surrounded Atlantis on the runway, Stott's journey came full circle -- from Kennedy -- to space -- and back home again.

Nicole Stott: "Everything I did with hardware here at KSC, with knowing how dedicated the people that working on the hardware, it prepares you. I mean, you feel like you have an intimate relationship with not only the people here at the space center, but with the hardware itself. And I think that, you know, I felt good every step of the way. You know, from launch through landing, I, you know, felt good about the hardware and the people that had prepared it for me. So, I think it was a definite, you know, probably No. 1 on the list of making me ready."

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