NASA said astronaut Steve Bowen would replace lead spacewalker Tim Kopra for the next space shuttle mission planned for launch on Feb. 24, after Kopra was injured in a bicycle accident over the weekend.
Tim is doing fine and expects a full recovery, however, he will not be able to support the launch window next month, said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. If for some unanticipated reason STS-133 slips significantly, it is possible that Tim could rejoin the crew.
However, the crew change should not affect the Discovery's Feb. 24 scheduled takeoff.
Bowen, who will begin training this week with the STS-133 crew, will also train to perform the two planned spacewalks of the mission. He will join Alvin Drew to move a failed ammonia pump and perform other external configurations to the station.
Lead astronaut Kopra crashed his bike near his Houston home last Saturday. Though, NASA hasn't revealed his injury details, media reports are claiming that he broke his hip and is on indefinite sick leave.
Kopra's replacement Bowen is the first Submarine Officer selected by NASA in July 2000 as a mission specialist. Bowen is said to be a veteran of having two spaceflights in 2008 and 2010 to his name. Bowen has logged a total of 27 days, 14 hours, 57 minutes and 39 seconds in space.
Steve is an ideal candidate, and we have complete confidence he'll contribute to a fully successful STS-133 mission, Whitson said. He has performed five prior spacewalks. That extensive experience, coupled with some adjustments to the spread of duties among the crew, will allow for all mission objectives to be accomplished as originally planned in the current launch window.
NASA is set to launch its space shuttle Discovery on STS-133 mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the ISS on Feb. 24. The crew will deliver and install the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) Leonardo, the Express Logistics Carrier 4 and also provide critical spare components to the International Space Station.
The STS-133 crew members are Commander Steven Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott. The mission will feature two spacewalks, which is expected to be done by Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew, to do maintenance work and install new components. The mission also will deliver Robonaut 2 (R2), which will be the first human-like robot in space when it flies on Discovery inside the PMM to become a permanent resident of the station.