By Jim Newell
NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel has journeyed a long way since his days in Lake Orion, and next Wednesday he will once again depart Earth, this time for a five-month mission to the International Space Station.
Feustel, a 1983 Lake Orion High School graduate, will serve as flight engineer on Expedition 55 mission as it heads to the space station. On Expedition 56, he will serve as flight commander.
Expedition 55 launches March 21 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and Feustel will travel aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft.
Feustel joins veteran NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos on the flight.
After a two-day journey, they will arrive at the space station and join NASA astronaut Scott Tingle, Expedition 55 Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
During the mission, Feustel and the crew will take part in about 250 space station science investigations and technology demonstrations, advancing the space agencies’ knowledge of Earth, space, physical and biological sciences.
“Science conducted in the orbiting laboratory continues to yield benefits for humanity and will enable future long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space,” according to NASA.
Feustel was at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia undergoing final training and evaluation for the mission, according to a NASA press release sent to The Lake Orion Review.
On March 4, he traveled to Baikonur for final pre-launch preparations.
This is Feustel’s third trip into space. He was selected as an astronaut in 2000, and has flown on two space shuttle flights.
In 2009, he served on space shuttle mission STS-125, the final servicing mission for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Feustel also served on STS-134, the final flight of space shuttle Endeavour, to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the space station. He has logged more than 29 days in space and more than 42 hours on six spacewalks, NASA said.
Lake Orion schools recognized Feustel’s achievements last fall when high school Principal Steve Hawley and Associate Principal Kyle Meteyer lead the ceremony to induct six graduates into the inaugural Wall of Excellence class.
Feustel, Col. Daniel Choike, musician John Upton, teacher Blanche Sims, CEO Fritz Henderson, and judo champion Dr. Ronald Tripp were the first Dragons enshrined on the wall.
“Lake Orion High School has a really proud tradition of honoring its alumni and career-focused education is a big part of what we do here,” said Meteyer, who spearheaded the project. “So, we decided it would be great to have Lake Orion High School focus on its alumni that have achieved the pinnacle of success in their chosen career field.”
The Wall of Excellence is in the high school atrium so students pass by when they enter and exit the building though the main doors.
“We’re looking at this as a way to recognize not only the alumni, but also to motivate and inspire the kids who are here now,” said Meteyer. “This is not something that is out-of-reach of any of the students who are here today.”
Feustel has a bachelor’s degree in solid Earth sciences and a master’s degree in geophysics from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. In 1995, he completed his doctorate in geological sciences, with a specialization in seismology, from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.