The commander of NASA's last space shuttle flight is leaving the agency this week to take a new job in the private sector, officials said today.
Three-time space flier Chris Ferguson will retire from NASA on Friday, ending an 11-year stint in the Astronaut Office. A NASA news release did not say where Ferguson would be working.
"Chris has been a true leader at NASA," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement, "not just as a commander of the space shuttle, but also as an exemplary civil servant, a distinguished Navy officer and a good friend. I am confident he will succeed in his next career as he brings his skill and talents to new endeavors."
A retired U.S. Navy captain, Ferguson commanded STS-135, NASA's 135th and final shuttle mission. The flight launched July 8 and landed July 21 at Kennedy Space Center.
He and three crewmates delivered 10,000 pounds of supplies and equipment to the International Space Station during a 13-day mission. Ferguson also flew on a station assembly mission in 2006 and a flight that equipped the outpost for a doubling to six of its rotating resident crews.
Prior to training for the final shuttle flight, Ferguson served as deputy chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"Chris has been a great friend, a tremendous professional and an invaluable asset to the NASA team and the astronaut office," said NASA Chief Astronaut Peggy Whitson said in a statement. "His exceptional leadership helped ensure a perfect final flight of the space shuttle, a fitting tribute to the thousands who made the program possible."