NASA Switches Crew

Eight previous times NASA has changed crew members before a shuttle flight — but never this close to the launch date. The change is due to a bike accident crew member Tim Kopra was in over the weekend. Bill Stamps has more.

Just six weeks before the scheduled launch of space shuttle Discovery NASA has to switch crew members, taking out Tim Kopra who hurt himself riding a bike and inserting fellow astronaut Steve Bowen. NASA Peggy Whitson says Bowen begins training immediately.

Stephen Bowen
Astronaut Steve Bowen (above) will replace astronaut Tim Kopra on STS-133, planned for launch on Feb. 24.

“We think it’s a good plan. We think we covered all the mission objectives with this training plan in the time frame that we have.

Whitson says NASA has rules that restrict astronauts from dangerous activities before a flight. But riding a bike isn’t one of them.

“Things like ski diving, acrobatic flying, snow skiing water skiing, motorcycle riding — some of those are on the don’t do list prior to flight.”

Whitson wouldn’t comment on Kopra’s condition, but said he might be ready if the flight were pushed back for some reason. She says she went to Kopra’s house and found him to be in his normal joking mood.

“His cat has a little hoop around her head to keep her from licking herself and so he said the cat is in the penalty box and so am I for getting hurt before the flight.”
The shuttle flight is due to take off February 24th.