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Olivas Assigned to Space Shuttle Mission STS-128

UTEP graduate and NASA astronaut John “Danny” Oliva
Photo courtesy of NASA
UTEP graduate and NASA astronaut John “Danny” Olivas.
El Pasoan and UTEP graduate John “Danny” Olivas has been assigned to his second space shuttle mission, STS-128.

The flight should launch July 30, 2009, and will carry science and storage racks to the International Space Station, according to a NASA announcement released today.

Olivas will be joined on STS-128 by shuttle commander Marine Corps Col. Frederick W. "Rick" Sturckow, shuttle pilot Retired Air Force Col. Kevin A. Ford and mission specialists Army Col. Patrick G. Forrester, Jose M. Hernandez and European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang. The shuttle also will deliver a new station crew member, Nicole Stott, and return current station crew member Tim Kopra to Earth.

Olivas became a hometown hero when he made his first flight into space aboard the shuttle Atlantis as part of mission STS-117 in June 2007.

During the successful 14-day mission, Olivas performed two space walks outside Atlantis, which was docked to the International Space Station. During his second space walk, Olivas used staples, pins and steel thread to repair a torn thermal blanket on the shuttle’s exterior.

Olivas is a graduate of Burges High School in El Paso. He earned his bachelor’s degree from UTEP and master’s from the University of Houston, both in mechanical engineering. He also earned a doctorate in mechanical engineering and materials science from Rice University.

Olivas worked for Dow Chemical Co. and later served as a senior research engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. He was named to NASA’s astronaut program in 1998.

UTEP honored Olivas as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2006, the university’s highest honor, bestowed upon outstanding alumni for their achievements and contributions to the community.

Olivas has made two special trips to El Paso since 2006 to share his story and inspire young people to reach for their dreams.

For more information about Olivas, visit Information:

– Kim Miller

MINER e-NOTES. Citing Internet Resources. [Online], July 16, 2008.