Chicago Area Astronaut Heading for Space

By Prescott Carlson in News on Mar 9, 2009 9:40PM

03_09_09_archambault.jpgIn our youth, we were one of those kids that liked to dream big and routinely answered the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" with "Astronaut." While that didn't quite work out (nor did our second choice of playing in the NBA) and we wound up with the equally lofty career of writing things on the internet, we still enjoy nerding out and watching space shuttle launches on T.V.

We'll especially be interested in the launch scheduled to take place this Wednesday at 8:20 p.m. since the shuttle will be commanded by local hero Lee Archambault (pictured) from Bellwood. (Fun fact: Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, also grew up in Bellwood.) This is the second attempt at a Discovery launch, after a January liftoff was scrapped due to engine trouble. The mission is heading to the International Space Station to deliver and install a final set of solar wings, as well as give a ride to Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata who will be making the space station his temporary home.

Archambault isn't the only active astronaut from Illinois -- Wakata is taking the place of Sandra Magnus from Belleville, who'll be getting a ride back to Earth with Archambault and crew. Another astronaut who has made two shuttle flights as well as served a 120 day space station stint is Dan Tani from Lombard. Tani was aboard the ISS when his mother died in a car accident, and Tani beamed down a message from space for her funeral.

Photo courtesy of NASA