An Iowa native will be on board when the space shuttle returns to flight later this year. 40-year-old Jim Kelly is a Burlington native who had originally been training for a mission that would follow the return of the shuttle Columbia in February of 2003. The break up of Columbia as it re-entered earth’s atmosphere put Kelly’s mission on hold while N-A-S-A looked to solve the problem. He says a lot has changed about the mission now and he says it’s going to be very exciting to be the first crew on the shuttle to go back up in orbit. He says about half of the mission will be re-stocking the space station, the original mission, and half will be new. Kelly says the new portion of the mission is a direct result of the Columbia disaster. He says most of it is from the Columbia accident investigation report. He says most of those things center around inspections, knowing what’s going on around the vehicle, techniques for moving outside the shuttle and making repairs. He says the mission to restock the space station is also important since it’s been two years since a shuttle has flown. Kelly says being an astronaut has always been his dream.He says from the time he was five in 1969 he watched the first moon landings and says he got the bug to go into space like everyone else. This will be Kelly’s second mission and he’s excited to ride the shuttle Discovery back into space. He says, “One of the greatest things about going up into space is the view. That’s one of the things that really lets you know you’re there is watching the world spin by beneath you at a high rate of speed.” Kelly says he’s looking forward to everything, but especially going up with some experience. He says it will be a tough mission, but the first time you go up, “You don’t know what you don’t know. You don’t know which part of your training is going to be really crucial and which aren’t so much.” Kelly says he can focus more on the mission now that he knows how to handle the little stuff. He says he knows how to do things like eat and go the bathroom in space, so he doesn’t have to worry about learning those type of things for the first time. He says that allows you to relax a little more. Kelly says they’re looking at a mid-May launch, depending on the weather and other factors.
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