John C. Stennis Space Center plays host to some special guests

Published 4:48 pm Friday, December 14, 2007

The crew of Shuttle STS-120 visited here Thursday to thank the employees for their part in making the astronauts’ mission successful.

The astronauts, who flew into space on the shuttle Discovery, are touring all of NASA’s facilities that contributed to making their mission successful to thank the employees who worked on the project.

At Stennis to thank the employees were shuttle commander Pamela A. Melroy, pilot George D. Zamka and mission specialists Scott E. Parazynski, Douglas H. Wheelcock, Stephanie D. Wilson and Paolo A. Nespoli, European Space Agency astronaut from Milan, Italy. The only member of the crew not at Stennis was Daniel M. Tani, who remained on the space station replacing Clayton C. Anderson who returned to Earth from his space station on the Discovery.

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“Our safety and our lives depend on what you do,” Melroy told Stennis employees. “Thank you Stennis Space Center. We put our lives and trust in you.”

Melroy, only the second female commander of any American space mission, told Stennis employees that she is a test pilot and a big believer in running tests. One of the most critical parts of the mission is the engines, and going into space would be impossible without them.

Stennis Space Center was responsible for testing all the rocket engines used for the mission, playing a vital role, she said.

The astronauts showed the employees a day by day “home video” of the trip and took turns narrating the events.

The Discovery crew, which took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 23, stayed in space for 15 days and conducted four space walks.

From the videos, the employees of Stennis could see that it isn’t all work that goes on in space. A two-minute blooper reel was played that showed the astronauts having a little fun at zero gravity.

The astronauts gave a special “thank you” gift to new Stennis Space Center director Robert Cabana, which he received on behalf of all Stennis employees. Cabana presented the astronauts with a plaque and Stennis coin.

He said Stennis continues to look towards future missions. The shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to be launched in January.