An Iowa native is less than a week away from piloting the space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jim Kelly is a Burlington native who now lives in Houston. The 36-year-old Kelly has a wife and four kids, but he says flying a shuttle mission above the earth doesn’t raise any more concern for his family than any of his past flights. Kelly says his two sons are old enough to understand what he’s doing, but his two daughters are really more excited about flying to Florida and visiting the beach. Kelly has flown in more than 35 different aircraft thus far in his career. This mission poses a new challenge in the delicate use of the shuttle’s jets around the space station. He says keeping the shuttle at the right speed is an important part of the docking process.Kelly will also operate the mechanical arm that’s located in the cargo bay of the shuttle. This, too, will require a lot of skill. Kelly has spent the past three years at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida preparing for this mission. Kelly will be the fifth Iowan in space. Kelly spoke with reporters this week in preparation for next week’s mission.
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