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Clarkson University Alumnus is Lead Flight Director for Thursday's Space Shuttle Mission
[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/202155main_mob_ sarafin_111607_d.jpg]
Over the past year and a half, solar arrays and a connecting module have been added to the International Space Station for power and to provide a pathway to new modules. But the mission of shuttle Atlantis' crew will mark the beginning of the culmination of all that work.
This is the next phase of the international mission, said Sarafin. "We're finally going to use a lot of that new capability that we've delivered. It really will be true utilization of the station by international partners."
That utilization comes in the form of Columbus, a 23-by-15-feet research laboratory and the future center of the European Space Agency's activities in space. It will be followed over the next two missions by components of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's module, called Kibo.
In addition to the Columbus module itself, Atlantis will deliver experiments to be performed in orbit and two astronauts to perform them - one to visit and one to stay. To oversee all of this, the European Space Agency's Columbus Control Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, will come online for the first time.
While a student at Clarkson, Sarafin took a co-op job at Johnson Space Center, leading to a position, after graduation, as a space shuttle software engineer. He became a guidance, navigation and control officer in 1995, supporting 30 shuttle flights in Mission Control, and was named a flight director in 2005.
In an interview with Clarkson magazine, Sarafin said that he appreciated both the co-op and classroom experiences, which he had as a Clarkson undergraduate. "The opportunity to work at NASA as part of the co-op program and the engineering knowledge I accumulated at Clarkson provided the foundation for my career at NASA," he said. "All those hours spent studying engineering and poring over physics and structural dynamics at Clarkson really paid off."
Sarafin's brother, Jim, trains astronauts at NASA. The Sarafin brothers are Herkimer, N.Y., natives and graduates of Richfield Springs Central School.
Read more about Space Shuttle Mission STS-122 at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts122.