Feeds

Last of the space shuttle commanders retires from NASA

Atlantis skipper hangs up his pressure suit

The next step in data security

The last astronaut to command a space shuttle mission is retiring from NASA at the age of 50, after 13 years at the agency.

Chris Ferguson, who likes to play drums for rock and roll astronaut band Max Q* in his spare time, was in at the end of the space shuttle era when he captained the final voyage of Atlantis, the 135th mission of America's 30-year manned spaceplane programme.

Ferguson, a retired US Navy captain, joined the astronaut corps in 1998 and after two years of training, spent six years on technical duties and as a spacecraft communicator.

He first flew into space in 2006 as the pilot on the STS-115 mission (also aboard shuttle Atlantis) which was responsible for restarting the assembly of the International Space Staiton (ISS).

He then commanded the STS-126 Endeavour mission in 2008, a so-called 'home improvement' mission to deliver a water recycling system, two sleeping quarters, a kitchen and exercise equipment, among other things, to the ISS.

Finally, he was the commander of STS-135/ULF7 Atlantis in July 2011, delivering supplies and spare parts for the space station.

Altogether, he spent more than 40 days in space.

"Chris has been a great friend, a tremendous professional and an invaluable asset to the NASA team and the astronaut office," Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office, 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."

Ferguson is leaving the space agency for a job in the private sector, NASA said. ®

Bootnote

*Max Q is an astronaut band that was started in 1987 by Robert Gibson, George Nelson and Brewster Shaw. The band is named after the engineering term for the maximum dynamic pressure from the atmosphere experienced by ascending spacecraft.

The rotating membership, based on whether or not any of them are training, or are actually in space, also includes Dan Burbank, commander of the current mission on the ISS, Expedition 30.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.