Astronauts needed as shuttle era ends


The astronauts of Atlantis continued on their final mission of the space shuttle era Wednesday, working with the International Space Station crew to unpack supplies and perform a little plumbing on an aging toilet.

Although the shuttle era is ending, would-be astronauts shouldn't lose heart. NASA seems to be thinking about recruiting more space explorers, who would be based here at the Johnson Space Center. "Houston has asked to recruit more astronauts," NASA chief Charles Bolden said Tuesday at a Congressional hearing.

With the retirement announcement of astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., the active astronaut corps stands at 61, "the number it was prior to the first flight of the space shuttle 30 years ago," said NASA's Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations. "We are presently investigating the need to make a new selection" of astronauts, she said.

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