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UW alum Jim Dutton pilots space shuttle Discovery

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Jim Dutton is currently at the controls of the space shuttle Discovery, which launched early Monday, April 5 from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Dutton is a 1994 graduate of the UW College of Engineering, and that’s two straight shuttle missions piloted by Huskies. Last May, Gregory C. Johnson led the Atlantis mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.    

Growing up in Oregon, Dutton remembers looking up into the starry sky and thinking it was the only place for him. Now, he’s driving one of the iconic space shuttle’s final missions. “The space shuttle was really the vehicle that I grew up watching. I think, for my generation, most people feel that way,” Dutton told Spaceflight Now in a fantastic new profile.    

Discovery is headed for the International Space Station on one of the last mission’s for NASA’s shuttle program. It should rendezvous with the station Wednesday as part of a 13-day mission that will stock the outpost with supplies and experiments.  

Monday’s launch also set a record for the most women in space at the same time. Three women—including Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, a former high school teacher from Vancouver, Wash.—are aboard the shuttle, and another is already at the space station, making for an unprecedented foursome.

According to the Associated Press story on the April 5 morning launch, the shuttle’s main antenna failed shortly after takeoff and could impact the radar needed for the rendezvous. However, NASA officials said there were other tools to work around the situation.  

To keep tabs on Dutton and all the latest details, follow NASA’s Discovery blog.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

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