UPDATE!!! Just found a blog that Bill Oefelein, pilot of the recent space shuttle mission is conducting about the mission.
Discovery’s seven astronauts are among the most culturally diverse of any space shuttle crew. There are two African-Americans, an astronaut of Indian descent, the soon-to-be first Swede in space, a British-born mission specialist, an Alaskan and a Jersey Boy.
Hometown: Born in Ft. Belvoir, Va., but considers Anchorage, Alaska, his hometown.
Called “Billy-O” by his fellow astronauts, Oefelein began his aviation career as a teenager flying floatplanes in Alaska.
“One of the best ways to explore the state … was by air,” Oefelein said. “I started flying floatplanes up there and explored – whether I was just trying to find a new fishing hole or camping spot.”
He studied electrical engineering at Oregon State University and later earned a master’s degree in aviation systems at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. He received a commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy in 1988 and was designated a naval aviator two years later. He made several overseas deployments, attended Navy Fighter Weapons (Topgun) School and then became a test pilot instructor before he was selected to be an astronaut in 1998.
As Discovery’s pilot, Oefelein will undock Discovery from the space station, coordinate the mission’s three spacewalks and use the shuttle’s robotic arm to inspect for any damage. He is making his first flight in space.
Oefelein was selected by NASA in June, 1998, and was originally scheduled to pilot the space shuttle in 2003. But the Columbia disaster during reentry in February of that year put the program on hold and left fellow OSU engineering alumnus Donald Pettit on the International Space Station for close to six months, before he returned safely to Earth aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
On his mission, Oefelein and the seven-member crew will reconfigure the electrical system and add a truss segment to accommodate more solar arrays, which provide electrical power.
“I’m really looking forward to wearing a lot of hats,” he said.