Pilot Mark Kelly
Mark Kelly is assigned to pilot the crew of STS-121. Kelly was born February 21, 1964, in Orange, New Jersey, and considers West Orange, New Jersey, to be his hometown. He has two children and enjoys cycling, weight-lifting, and golf. Kelly graduated from Mountain High School, went on to receive his Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering and Marine Transportation from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1986, and then a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1994.
Kelly was selected in April 1996 by NASA, and reported to Johnson Space Center in August 1996. Mike has logged over 4,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircraft and has over 375 carrier landings. He has been assigned duties as the T-38 Safety Officer and has supported the Advanced Programs Branch of the Astronaut Office. He flew on STS-108 in 2001, and has logged almost 12 days in space. STS-108 Endeavour was the 12th shuttle flight to visit the International Space Station. The crew delivered the Expedition-4 crew and returned the Expedition-3 crew, unloaded over 3 tons of equipment and supplies from the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, and performed one space walk to wrap thermal blankets around ISS Solar Array Gimbals.
When asked in a 2006 interview, “I want to get you to describe what’s planned, in, not in excruciating detail, but...the first spacewalk of this mission is another component of the Return to Flight effort aimed at improving safety, in this case a demonstration of the use of the robotic arm as a possible work platform. Tell me what’s on the schedule for that,” Kelly replied,
Yeah, this is going to be, I think, one of the highlights of the flight. This is going to be really cool to watch, especially, people on the ground getting to see this; they’re going to think this is something. We’re really excited about it because we’re going to stick Mike and Piers on the end of the arm; one of them is going to be in a portable foot restraint which holds him rigid by his feet, and the other crewmember will be free-floating on the tip of the boom. They’re going to do some inputs to see how the boom reacts to having a person, or in this case, for the part of the spacewalk, one person and then later two people, on the tip of the boom. Because we need to be able to prove that we can use this for repair. And we’re going to do that by putting these guys on the end of it, and the boom is going to be held by the robot arm, and they’re going to be extended pretty far out in space, and they’re going to be doing certain maneuvers and we’re going to see how this thing reacts. So I think visually it’s going to be pretty, pretty neat to watch this and pretty exciting. This is our highest priority EVA because the boom is really important to prove that we can repair the orbiter.
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