Christopher Ferguson, a Drexel University alumnus and Philadelphia native, will lead the crew of the space shuttle Endeavour for the first time as mission commander. During the mission, crew members will install a system that recycles urine into drinking water.
“I would challenge you to find any other system on the Earth that recycles urine into drinkable water,” Ferguson said.
The crew of Endeavour will launch November 14 (7:55 p.m. EST) from Kennedy Space Center and dock with the International Space Station November 16.
“On behalf of everyone at Drexel and your many friends in Philadelphia, I want to wish you and the crew of the Endeavour a successful mission. You are Drexel’s third alumnus to journey into space, and I know you will again make us proud,” said Drexel University President Dr. Constantine Papadakis.
Ferguson and his seven-person crew will prepare the space station to house six crew members for long-duration missions. The preparations will include a new cargo hold, additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet and a resistance exercise device.
As commander, Ferguson will be responsible for the overall success of the mission, orbiter systems operations and flight operations, including landing. Using a video camera to navigate, he will line up the docking ports of Endeavour and the space station.
Ferguson will also be at Endeavour’s controls when, flying just 600 feet below the space station, Endeavour will execute a “slow rotational back flip” maneuver, presenting its belly and other areas of its heat protective tiles. According to NASA, this move will allow crew members to take detailed digital photos of the shuttle’s heat protective shields.
Ferguson, whose family lives in Langhorne and Norristown, Pa., graduated from Drexel with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1984. He also attended Naval Postgraduate School, earning a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering in 1991. He served in multiple capacities while with the Navy until NASA recruited him in June 1998. After two years of training at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Ferguson was assigned technical duties in the operations branch of the Astronaut Office Spacecraft Systems.
For information about satellite feeds and to view steaming video, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html