Friday, February 25, 2011

Kopra talks to Discovery crew

Tim Kopra, the astronaut who had to give up a seat on Discovery's final flight after a January bicycling accident, today told his former crewmates he was with them "in spirit."

"I just wanted to tell you guys you all had an awesome launch, and we were all very proud of you down here," Kopra said from a chair in NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston (far left in picture).

"Great to hear your voice, Tim," replied Discovery commander Steve Lindsey. "It was a great launch. Can’t tell you how much we wish you were here with us as well."

"I’m sure you know that I feel the same way, but I definitely feel like I’m there in spirit, and I’m especially looking forward to seeing Steve and Al go out the door and do great work," said Kopra, referring to Discovery spacewalkers Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew.

NASA replaced Kopra with Bowen. Lindsey thanked Kopra for offering his help from the ground during the two spacewalks planned next week outside the International Space Station.

"My pleasure. Enjoying watching you guys. Keep up the great work," said Kopra.

Mission specialist Nicole Stott and Mike Barratt both spoke with Kopra. Barratt hinted the crew had flown something on Discovery to return to Kopra to honor his role in the mission.

"We miss your booming zero-G laughter up here," Barratt hsaid. "And I’ll have to tell you that you’re here in a little more than spirit, but we’ll have to explain that when we get back."

"I’m looking forward to that, Mike. It’s great to hear you voice."

Astronaut Steve Robinson, working with the crew from Houston on the mission's current shift, was seated next to Kopra and wrapped up the discussion.

"All right, Discovery, just goes to show, you have a seven-person crew, they’re just not all up there with you," he said.

The crew is in the process of robotically inspecting Discovery's wing leading edges and nose cap for any potential damage from debris during Thursday's launch. 

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