Monday, December 05, 2011
NASA Bids Farewell to Last Shuttle Commander
Astronaut Chris Ferguson who commanded the last shuttle mission will be leaving NASA this week after 11-years with the agency and three trips into space.
Ferguson, a retired U.S. Navy captain, commanded shuttle Atlantis on STS-135, the 135th and final mission of the space shuttle program. STS-135 launched on July 8, 2011 and was originally scheduled to land on July 20, 2011, but the mission was extended an additional day to July 21, 2011.
The four person crew was the smallest of any shuttle mission since STS-6 in April 1983, and utilized hardware that was originally designated for a contingency rescue mission for previous shuttle flights. The mission's primary cargo was the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Raffaello, along with a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Carrier (LMC), delivering more than 10,000 Lbs. of cargo to the International Space Station.
Ferguson will be joining the private sector, although a NASA press release did not state where he will be working in the future.
According to Florida Today:
"Chris has been a true leader at NASA," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement, "not just as a commander of the space shuttle, but also as an exemplary civil servant, a distinguished Navy officer and a good friend. I am confident he will succeed in his next career as he brings his skill and talents to new endeavors."
Ferguson also flew on a station assembly mission in 2006 and a flight that equipped the outpost for a doubling to six of its rotating resident crews. Prior to training for the final shuttle flight, Ferguson served as deputy chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"Chris has been a great friend, a tremendous professional and an invaluable asset to the NASA team and the astronaut office," said NASA Chief Astronaut Peggy Whitson said in a statement. "His exceptional leadership helped ensure a perfect final flight of the space shuttle, a fitting tribute to the thousands who made the program possible."