University of Central Florida alumna Nicole P. Stott will journey into space for a second time aboard space shuttle Discovery.
The spacecraft’s 35th and final mission is scheduled to launch later this week from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Stott will be one of six astronauts who will fly on Discovery’s STS-133 mission. The 13-day flight will provide spare parts and storage capacity to the International Space Station. Discovery also will deliver Robonaut 2, which will become the first human-like robot in space.
Stott has credited her UCF master’s degree in Engineering Management and the support of her professors with helping her gain the confidence to apply for a highly coveted spot as an astronaut.
She took all of her UCF courses at Kennedy Space Center in a special program offered at the time for NASA engineers, and she graduated in 1992. At the time, she was in the midst of her 12-year career in space shuttle operations and processing — the behind-the-scenes tasks from the time a shuttle lands until it is launched again.
“It means a lot to me” to be the first UCF graduate to fly on a shuttle mission, she said before her first flight in August. “I think fondly of (UCF) because we were so intimately tied with this program that allowed us to stay right here at KSC and work with professors … It definitely gave me the skills for later, working in the astronaut office and working as a project engineer.”
As a mission specialist, Stott will be tweeting about her pre-launch preparations and is expected to provide updates to her Twitter account during the shuttle mission. Stott can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Nicole.
For NASA’s launch blog and continuous mission updates, visit the STS-133 Mission.
Editor’s Note: The video below highlights details of Stott’s first mission to space in 2009.