Christopher Ferguson, a Drexel University alumnus and Philadelphia native, will pilot the space shuttle Atlantis on the first mission since late 2002 dedicated to the construction of the International Space Station.

The mission, which will include three spacewalks, will set the stage for the addition of more science laboratories to the station.

Atlantis is scheduled for liftoff at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) Aug. 27. STS-115 promises to be a courageous and triumphant mission for NASA. The 11-day mission will begin a series of flights as complex and challenging as any in history to complete the assembly of the station, NASA officials say.

Drexel President Constantine Papadakis delivered the following message to Ferguson earlier this month: “On behalf of everyone at Drexel and your many friends in Philadelphia, I want to wish you and the crew of the Atlantis a successful mission. You are Drexel’s third alumnus to journey into space, and I know you will again make us proud. Our students and faculty will gather to cheer you on when the shuttle lifts off. From all of us at Drexel, best of luck, Chris!”

As pilot, Ferguson is responsible for the vehicle, crew and safety of flight. He has trained aboard a T-38 jet, whose controls are identical with those of the shuttle. In addition to piloting duties, Ferguson also will operate the shuttle’s robotic arm to maneuver a 17-ton truss segment to the station and inspect the shuttle heat shield. As part of Atlantis’ mission, the new segment of the station’s truss backbone, which includes giant solar arrays, batteries and electronics, will be installed.

Ferguson, whose family lives in Langhorne and Norristown, Pa., graduated from Drexel with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1984. He also attended Naval Postgraduate School, earning a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering in 1991. The hometown hero served in multiple capacities while with the Navy until NASA selected him in June 1998. After two years of training at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Ferguson was assigned technical duties in the operations branch of the Astronaut Office Spacecraft Systems.

Ferguson will celebrate his 45th birthday in space Sept. 1.

Detailed information about Ferguson’s career may be found at For information about NASA TV feeds, visit


Drexel University

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