Swanson to fly on next space shuttle mission

Steamboat astronaut slated for second trip into orbit

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Courtesy of NASA

Steve Swanson

— Steamboat Springs astronaut Steve Swanson is going back into outer space.

NASA has listed Swanson as a mission specialist on Space Shuttle Discovery's upcoming mission to the International Space Station, according to a NASA news release. It will be Swanson's second trip into orbit.

Discovery's mission is targeted for launch Feb. 12 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The 14-day mission will deliver the final set of solar arrays and the last segment of the station's backbone. The crew will perform four spacewalks during the 10 days the shuttle is docked to the station.

Swanson is one of seven astronauts on the mission, designated STS-119.

Lee Archambault will command Discovery and Tony Antonelli will serve as the pilot. The mission specialists are Swanson, Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Richard Arnold and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will replace Expedition 18 Flight Engineer Sandra Magnus. She will return to Earth with the STS-119 crew while Wakata remains on the station.

Swanson graduated from Steamboat Springs High School in 1979. He earned a bachelor's degree in engineering physics from the University of Colorado in 1983, a master's degree in computer systems from Florida Atlantic University in 1986, and a doctorate in computer science from Texas A&M University in 1998.

In June of 2007, he was part of a 14-day mission with NASA's STS-177 crew aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

On that mission, Swanson and the rest of the crew delivered a starboard truss segment and its associated energy systems to the International Space Station, which orbits 300 miles above the Earth. Swanson assembled new parts on the space station and operated shuttle and station arms for assembly.

A month after returning to Earth, Swanson said his first trip into outer space was never "nerve-wracking" because everything happened so fast.

But one moment in particular stood out for Swanson.

Preparing for his first spacewalk, Swanson admitted he had a little apprehension at first. But once he was out and on top of the space station, Swanson said the experiences - and the view - were surreal.

"The sun came up and you could see the whole space station and the Earth," Swanson said. "I just had to sit there and take it in. It was more of where I am than what I am. I tried to soak it all in. It certainly was an interesting thing."

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