Tech Grad Named Station Commander on Next Space Station Mission
Posted December 2, 2003 | Washington, D.C.
The last time NASA Astronaut Bill McArthur (MS AE '83) went to the International Space Station, he was helping to ready the orbital outpost for its first crew. Next year, he'll have the opportunity to try it out for himself.
McArthur, who earned a Master of Science degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech in 1983, and Russian Cosmonaut Valery Tokarev, have been named as the Expedition 9 crew, set to blast toward the Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in April 2004.
McArthur and Tokarev, both highly honored military test pilots, will relieve Expedition 8 crew, Michael Foale and Alexander Kaleri, who took up residence in October. Both McArthur and Tokarev have been to the Station before, but neither has "lived" there. They will spend several months residing and working on the Station.
Once on board, they'll begin scientific studies in Earth sciences, life sciences, fundamental biology, and microgravity.
McArthur flew on Discovery's STS-92 mission in October 2000, performing more than 13 hours of spacewalks to help attach the Z1 Truss and Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 to the Station. This expansion of the ISS opened the door for future assembly missions and prepared the station for its first crew.
Tokarev also visited the station on Discovery, delivering four tons of logistics and supplies on STS-96 in June of 1999.
In addition to STS-92, McArthur flew on two other shuttle missions, including a 1995 rendezvous and docking with the Russian Space Station Mir.
European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Andre Kuipers joins McArthur and Tokarev on their Soyuz flight. He'll spend eight days on the Station conducting experiments under a commercial agreement between ESA and the Russian space agency. Kuipers will return to Earth with Foale and Kaleri.
McArthur is among ten astronauts who have earned degrees from Georgia Tech. Three other graduates have been selected as candidates for future missions. Another astronaut is a former Tech faculty member.
Raised in Wakulla, N.C., McArthur earned a Bachelor of Science degree in applied science and engineering from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point in 1973 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Following a tour with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., he entered the U.S. Army Aviation School in 1975. He was the top graduate of his flight class and was designated an army aviator in June 1976. He subsequently served as an aeroscout team leader and brigade aviation section commander with the 2nd Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea.
In 1978, he was assigned to the 24th Combat Aviation Battalion in Savannah, where he served as a company commander, platoon leader, and operations officer. After completing studies at Georgia Tech, he was assigned to the Department of Mechanics at West Point as an assistant professor. In June 1987, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and was designated an experimental test pilot. Other military schools completed include the Army Parachutist Course, the Jumpmaster Course, and the Command and General Staff Officers' Course. McArthur retired from the Army in 2001.
McArthur was assigned to NASA at the Johnson Space Center in August 1987 as a Space Shuttle vehicle integration test engineer. NASA selected him as an astronaut candidate in January 1990. McArthur became an astronaut in July of the following year. A veteran of three space flights, McArthur has logged 35 days, two hours, 25 minutes and 10 seconds in space, including 13 hours and 16 minutes of EVA time in two space walks.
International Space Station Marks Five Years in Orbit
On November 20, the International Space Station reached the historic milestone of five years in space. The unique orbiting laboratory complex has grown from a lone, uninhabited module into a permanently staffed, house-sized research facility.
The Station remains the largest and most complex international space research project in history. The Station will eventually triple scientific capacity with components awaiting the Space Shuttle's return to flight.
The first Space Station element, the Russian Zarya control module, was launched from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Nov. 20, 1998. Two weeks later, the Space Shuttle Endeavour delivered the second element, the U.S. connecting module called Unity. The challenges, triumphs and tragedy shared by the international partnership since then have solidified cooperation on the Station among the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe.
"Together with our international partners, we have learned how to build, operate and maintain a very complex spacecraft, through the good times and the bad," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA Space Station Program Manager. "With this experience to guide us, we look forward to the future, with a vast expansion of the Station on the horizon."
At five years old, the Station is still growing. More than 80 tons of equipment and hardware are in the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla. being prepared for launch.
The Space Station has orbited the Earth more than 29,000 times. It is visible in the night sky as it flies more than 210 miles overhead. The living and working area inside the Station has a volume of about 15,000 cubic feet, larger than a three-bedroom house.
The orbiting complex has been inhabited since Nov. 2, 2000. Eight successive crews, 22 people, have staffed the Station. Residents have conducted research in bioastronautics, physical sciences, fundamental space biology, space product development and space flight disciplines. In the U.S. Destiny Lab alone, astronauts have worked on more than 70 different science experiments.
Hundreds of people on Earth support Station operations from the Station Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Round-the-clock science operations are handled by the Payload Operations Center team at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Hundreds of other scientists and engineers perform important jobs, such as training Station crews and building new hardware that will become part of the orbiting laboratory.
Additional research facilities are being readied for launch on future Shuttle missions. They will enhance Destiny's capabilities in the areas of fundamental space biology; glass and porous ceramics materials processing research; human physiology research; combustion research; research on the behavior of fluids; Earth observations; and experiment refrigerator/freezer conditioned sample storage.
Also awaiting launch at KSC are solar arrays and support structures that will triple the sunlight-gathering, solar cell area, thereby increasing the power dedicated to research by 84 percent.
The Node 2 module that will serve as a connector between the U.S., European and Japanese research labs is at KSC undergoing pre-launch processing. The Kibo Japanese Experiment Module, including a pressurized lab already at KSC, will also be added to the Station. The European Columbus Laboratory, under construction in Bremen, Germany, will expand the Station's volume to almost that of a five-bedroom house.