Injured NASA astronaut replaced on crew of upcoming mission

Friday, January 21, 2011

NASA astronaut Steve Bowen (pictured) has been named to replace Tim Kopra on the upcoming STS-133 mission following an injury sustained by Kopra last weekend in a bicycle accident.
Image: NASA.

NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, a crew member on the upcoming STS-133 Space Shuttle mission, who was injured over the weekend in a bicycle accident, has been replaced. Astronaut Steve Bowen will be taking his place.

Kopra's duties of lead spacewalker on the crew of STS-133 will be transmitted to Bowen, veteran of two previous spaceflights, STS-126 and STS-132. Peggy Whitson, chief of NASA'S Astronaut Office, expressed her confidence in Bowen saying, "[Steve] has performed five prior spacewalks. That extensive experience, coupled with some adjustments to the spread of duties among the crew, will allow for all mission objectives to be accomplished as originally planned in the current launch window."

Bowen will begin training for STS-133 along with fellow crew members Steven Lindsey, Eric Boe, Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt, and Nicole Stott later on this week.

Although Kopra is expected to make a full recovery from his injury, Whitson commented that "He will not be able to support the launch window next month." She does note, however, that Kopra could possibly rejoin the crew if the launch date of STS-133 were to "slip significantly." Currently, the mission is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on February 24.

This crew change is part of a series of ongoing issues with the upcoming STS-133 mission, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery, including technical problems with Discovery's external fuel tank.