An Air Force Academy graduate and an Air Force Academy experiment are both on the space shuttle Endeavor when it launched into space this morning.
Col. Greg Johnson, a 1984 graduate of the academy, is piloting the space shuttle, and is taking the alpha magnetic spectrometer with him. The spectrometer is an experiment that could “change the course of physics,” Johnson said.
The experiment, dubbed Canary, includes placing a 10-centimeter alpha magnetic spectrometer cube to the exterior of the space station. It will investigate the interactions of approaching spacecraft and the background plasma environment around the space station.
Canary is one of four scientific experiments in the payload managed by the Department of defense Space Test Program offices at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“We’re also taking some pieces and parts up to the space station in anticipation of the shuttle retiring, because we only have a few more shuttle flights,” he said.
The four mission specialists will be doing four spacewalks and some robotic arm operations.
The shuttle is expected to dock at the International Space Station early in its 16-day mission, to transfer several experiments and supplies to the space station.
The shuttle will land June 1 at Kennedy Space Center, Endeavour’s final planned mission.
Atlantis is scheduled to launch June 28, and will be the final space shuttle mission.