Space Shuttle Astronauts: The 'Final Four'


Space Shuttle Atlantis: The Final Crew

Magnus said she is grateful to the pioneering women who made it possible for her to become an astronaut. "I remember going into high school in 1978 and I already latched onto the idea of being an astronaut, and I read in the paper about the first group of women who were selected into the astronaut program and I thought, wow, I don't have to break any doors down, these women have already done this for me."

Rex Walheim is the last member of the foursome. If this crew had more people on it he would be going out on the only spacewalk of the mission -- but, alas, they are so short-staffed he will have to stay inside to supervise space station astronauts when they get to go out in his place. Walheim is married with two teenagers, and he calls San Carlos, California his hometown.

Walheim was a flight controller before he was selected as an astronaut in 1996. This will be his third space shuttle flight. He jokes about how "iffy" this flight was for so long.

"People would still come to you and say, 'Hey, you guys got money yet?'" he said. "And we'd try to say, 'Yeah, we are really going to fly.'

"We were happy when we got out to the launch pad."

So the final four are happy to be close to launch -- even though they have only had nine months to train, and will all take on multiple jobs during this mission.

The advantage for a four-person crew on the last space shuttle mission is one most parents of small children will understand. Everyone gets a window seat.

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