Camas grad prepares for final Discovery mission

Michael Barratt

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On Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Space Shuttle Discovery crew members receive instruction on the operation of the pad's slidewire basket system emergency exit training as part of the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test. Inside the basket are Mission Specialists Nicole Stott (left) and Michael Barratt (right).

A “Joe Papermaker” banner is among the items expected to spend some time in space next week, as a Camas High School graduate prepares for his mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Astronaut Michael Barratt, a 1977 CHS grad, will serve as a mission specialist for the Space Transportation System-133, which is scheduled to launch Monday from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The 11-day mission will be the final scheduled flight of Discovery.

During a phone interview Thursday from the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas, Barratt said he planned to take a “few little things” from his five children on board the shuttle.

“They’ve grown up with a parent almost on a military deployment,” he said. “Both Mom and Dad have careers. When we come home, they are all we do – no TV, newspapers or magazines. It’s our work and home.”

Barratt’s parents Joseph and Donna live in Camas – where Barratt said the support has been “remarkable.”

He referred to a videoconference involving his alma mater.

“I was very gratified,” Barratt said. “Some of the questions from Camas High School were the best questions. I recently met someone from Camas who is a medical resident who wants to be a space doctor and an astronaut.”

CHS Physics teacher Dale Croswell remembers serving as the teacher advisor of the school’s International Club, when Barratt was a member.

“It is pretty neat to see one of our own make it out into space,” Croswell said. “Who would have thought?”

He said he was very honored to be the emcee of the 2009 video conference at CHS while Barratt was on board the International Space Station.

“When I welcomed him and introduced myself, his response was ‘Cros? Is that you? Are you still there?'” Croswell said. “We all shared a good laugh over that.

“I hope he can come back again for a visit,” he added. “The kids have really enjoyed this.”

Barratt’s menu of food options while he is aboard the Discovery includes spicy chicken and vegetables, shrimp cocktail, meatloaf, candy coated chocolates, yogurt, Mexican scrambled eggs and Kona coffee with cream and sugar.

Barratt earned his medical degree from Northwestern University, in Chicago, in 1985. Last year, he became the first American flight surgeon with a formal specialty in aerospace medicine to fly in space. Barratt spent 197 days on the International Space Station, after launching from Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

For STS-133, Commander Steve Lindsey and his crew are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy on Thursday, for final launch preparations. Joining Lindsey will be Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Barratt, Alvin Drew, Tim Kopra and Nicole Stott. Drew and Kopra will conduct two spacewalks to install new components and do some maintenance work.

The astronauts will deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module to the International Space Station. The module will provide additional storage for the station crew. Experiments in fields such as fluid physics, materials science, biology and biotechnology may be conducted inside the module.

The module carries Robonaut 2, the first human-like robot in space. It will become a permanent resident of the station. The flight will also deliver critical spare parts and the Express Logistics Carrier 4 – an external platform that holds large equipment.