Returning to Earth from their November 2008 mission, the crew from the Space Shuttle Endeavour's STS-126 mission will pay a special visit to the troops in Germany and the Middle East Jan. 26-Feb. 5. Crew members visiting the troops include Commander Chris Ferguson (Capt., USN), Pilot Eric Boe (Col., USAF) and Mission Specialists Donald Pettit, Steve Bowen (Capt., USN), Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper (Capt., USN) and Shane Kimbrough (Lt. Col., USA).

"This is the first time in Armed Forces Entertainment's 55 year history that we have hosted astronauts on a tour to visit our troops overseas," said Air Force Colonel Edward Shock, Chief of Armed Forces Entertainment. "And with this crew, it makes it even more poignant-since five of the six crew members are US military themselves. They know the risks and the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make, and have a deep appreciation for their dedication."

During their visit with the troops, the STS-126 crew will present a brief synopsis of their mission and the important repair work and preparation of the International Space Station, which will house six crew members on long-duration missions beginning this year. The new station equipment included a water recovery system, additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet and an exercise device. During four spacewalks, the crew serviced the station's two Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, which allow its solar arrays to track the sun, and installed new hardware that will support future assembly missions.

"We are really looking forward to visiting the men and women who defend our country overseas," said STS-126 Commander Chris Ferguson. "Although our jobs are different, we know it's tough being away from family and friends-and being far from home. As a military family, we know that support and a pat on the back go a long way."

Since its inception in 1958, NASA has accomplished many great scientific and technological feats in air and space. NASA technology also has been adapted for many nonaerospace uses by the private sector. NASA remains a leading force in scientific research and in stimulating public interest in aerospace exploration, as well as science and technology in general. For more information on the STS-126 tour, visit:

Armed Forces Entertainment is the lead Department of Defense agency for providing entertainment to U.S. military personnel serving overseas, with priority given to those in contingency operations and at remote and isolated locations. The Department of the Air Force is the executive agent of Armed Forces Entertainment. Founded in 1951, Armed Forces Entertainment brings a touch of home to more than 500,000 troops annually, embracing the best of Americana that stretches across all genres of entertainment.