Shuttle astronauts say 'Thank you' to Stennis Space Center

By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Several NASA astronauts stopped by the Stennis Space Center Tuesday afternoon. Five of the six members of the Space Shuttle Crew Atlantis flew to Stennis to thank all the employees for their hard work.

Stennis is the site where the space shuttle engines are tested.

The Atlantis returned to earth in late November of last year. The crew's 13 day mission included a trip to the International Space Station to deliver supplies and bring one of the astronauts back home. The trip also involved three successful space walks.

Commander Charles Hobaugh has been part of three shuttle missions, but he said this one was even more special. The shuttle is scheduled to be retired next year, so last year's journey was one of its last.

"You don't know when you will get another shot at it," Hobaugh said. "Every mission you make is extremely precious."

These men have done what so many dream of, but few will ever do. So, what is it like to travel in space?

"It is just very peaceful, serene, floating," Commander Hobaugh said. "You just see a very serene Earth. It is an incredible perspective to have. "

It may seem serene, but they are hurtling through space at an incredible speed. The shuttle orbits the Earth every 90 minutes. It travels at 17,500 miles per hour. That's about five miles a second, which is faster than a speeding bullet.

The astronauts told the crowd at Stennis they hope to go back into space soon.

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