Endeavour astronauts say thank-you to Stennis engine testers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Endeavour astronauts say thank-you to Stennis engine testers

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

By Al Showers - email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The astronauts scheduled to fly on NASA's final space shuttle mission spent Friday at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County.

The six member crew of the Endeavour is set to blast off in November for the last scheduled flight of the shuttle program.

Endeavour's astronauts talked about the final shuttle mission standing in front of the place where Stennis engineers tested the engine that will take them into space. It was the astronauts' chance to recognize the people at Stennis for their part in shuttle history.

"We appreciate what they do and their job directly affects us and our safety, so it's really important for us to see them and thank them for their work," Commander Mark Kelly said.

For almost 30 years now, the space shuttle has been center of America's space program. The astronauts, including one Italian crew member, say they hate to see it go, but look forward to what's next.

"It may be the last flight for me," Italian Astronaut Roberto Vittori said. "It remains an unbelievable machine. I look forward to experience the space shuttle."

"I think once we land, maybe we'll reflect a little bit on the fact that we were the last flight," Kelly said. "As far as I'm concerned, whether it's last or second to last, it really doesn't matter much to our crew. We want to have a safe and successful mission."

And that's the goal of every space flight: an experience few will ever know, and one that leaves even the astronauts in awe.

"We can see Interstate 10, we can see New Orleans, we can see up here just fine," NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke said. "You can't see the great wall of China, but you can see the pyramids. You never get tried of looking out the window."

Endeavour's 13 day mission is scheduled to included three space walks.

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