UMR graduate Sandra Magnus and a crew of four other astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut are scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Oct. 7 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis. This is Magnus’ first space flight.
Magnus, a mission specialist with NASA, earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 1986 and a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1990 from UMR. She earned a Ph.D. from the School of Material Science and Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology in 1996. She was born in Belleville, Ill. Magnus also holds a doctorate from the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Once Atlantis gets off the ground, the crew of six astronauts is expected to be in orbit for 11 days. During their mission, Magnus will drive the spacewalk mission while colleagues David Wolf and Piers Sellers install a large piece of truss to help anchor an array of power-generating solar panels on the space station. In addition, the crew will work with storage and transfer activities between the shuttle and space station, taking equipment, food and clothes to the station and bringing back things that are no longer needed.
Other UMR graduates who have become NASA astronauts include Col. Tom Akers and Janet Kavandi. Akers, who is now a mathematics instructor at UMR, was aboard the space shuttle Atlantis when it docked with Mir in 1996. Kavandi has made three trips into space, most recently in July 2001 to install a joint airlock on the International Space Station.