Donald E. Williams rounds out this space-travelling dream cast as STS-34’s mission commander. This was the captain’s second space flight.
A few interesting details about this seemingly routine Atlantis mission: the crew travelled a total distance of two million miles. That’s approximately 79 orbits around Earth, and almost five days. The emergency landing site, in case of mission abortion, was at Zaragoza Air Base in Spain.
The space shuttle program had a long run and it’s easy to lose perspective on just how monumental the astronauts’ achievements really are. Thanks to the heroic efforts of Donald Williams, Michael McCulley, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Shannon Lucid, and Ellen Baker the space craft Galileo successfully launched and was able to study Jupiter and its moons for eight years, retrieving immeasurably valuable data. Maybe I’ll make an animation of its space exploits next.
Or maybe I’ll make a few more fart jokes. Until next time, keep watching the skiis. Er, um, skies.