WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 22, 2007) - Army Astronaut Col. Douglas H. Wheelock is scheduled to blast into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery Tuesday, weather permitting at Cape Canaveral, Fla., with a mission of delivering equipment to the International Space Station.

The mission, STS-120 is the 23rd shuttle mission to the International Space Station, and will launch an Italian-built U.S. multi-port module for the station.

Retired Air Force Col. Pamela A. Melroy will command the STS-120 mission to take the Node 2 connecting module to the station. Melroy, a veteran shuttle pilot, is the second woman to command a shuttle.
Expedition 15/16 Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson will return to Earth from the space station aboard shuttle mission STS-120. The flight will carry his replacement, Daniel Tani, to the station.

A series of recent shuttle missions have added to the International Space Station's exterior with new elements for its main truss. Now, Discovery will take into orbit a connecting module that will increase the orbiting laboratory's interior space.

The STS-120 mission will bring the Harmony module, christened after a school contest, that will provide attachment points for European and Japanese laboratory modules. Known in technical circles as Node 2, it is similar to the six-sided Unity module that links the U.S. and Russian sections of the station.

"STS-120 is such a cool mission," said Commander Pam Melroy. "Node 2 is the expansion of the space station's capability to bring international laboratories up. It's the expansion of our capability to carry additional people.

"It has additional life support equipment that will allow us to expand out beyond a three-person crew. It's this big boost in the capability which is really exciting," she said.

Built in Italy for the United States, Harmony is a high-tech hallway and Tinkertoy-like hub. It is a 23- by 14-foot passageway that will connect the U.S. segment of the station to the European and Japanese modules, to be installed later this year and early next year, respectively.

Harmony will be the first new U.S. pressurized component to be added to the station since the Quest Airlock was attached to one of Unity's six berthing ports in 2001.

"It's the gateway to the international partners," Lead Station Flight Director Derek Hassman said. "As the station is configured today, there's nowhere to put all the international partner modules until we deliver and activate Node 2. That's the piece that makes the rest possible."

Marine Corps Col. George D. Zamka will serve as pilot for the space shuttle. The flight's mission specialists will be Scott E. Parazynski, Army Col. Wheelock, Stephanie D. Wilson and Paolo A. Nespoli, a European Space Agency astronaut from Italy. Wheelock, Zamka, and Nespoli will be making their first spaceflight.

Col. Wheelock is a dual-rated Master Army Aviator; and has logged over 2,500 flight hours in 43 different rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. He is also an FAA-rated Commercial Pilot in single and multi-engine land craft, rotorcraft, and gliders.

Col. Wheelock reported for Astronaut Candidate Training in August 1998. Following the initial two years of intensive Space Shuttle and Space Station training, he was assigned to the Astronaut Office ISS Operations Branch as a Russian Liaison, participating in the testing and integration of Russian hardware and software products developed for the ISS. He worked extensively with the Energia Aerospace Company in Moscow, Russia, developing and verifying dual-language procedures for ISS crews. Colonel Wheelock led joint U.S./Russian teams to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to oversee bench reviews, inventory, loading and launch of the first four unmanned ISS resupply capsules.

In 2001, Col. Wheelock assumed duties as the Crew Support Astronaut for the ISS Expedition 2 crew, which was on orbit for 147 days from March 2001 to August 2001, and for the ISS Expedition 4 crew, which was on orbit for 195 days (U.S. long-duration record) from December 2001 to June 2002. He was the primary contact for all crew needs, coordination, planning and interactions, and was the primary representative of the crews while they were on orbit.

In August 2002, Col.Wheelock was assigned as a Spacecraft Communicator in the Mission Control Center in Houston. In this role, he was the primary communication link between crews on orbit and the ground support team in the Control Center. His work as a CAPCOM culminated in his assignment as the lead CAPCOM for the ISS Expedition 8 mission, which was 194 days in duration.
In January 2005, Colonel Wheelock was assigned to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, as NASA's Director of Operations-Russia. He was responsible for supporting Russia-based training, logistic, and administrative needs of NASA astronauts preparing for flight on the ISS. Col. Wheelock was the primary liaison between Star City and NASA operations in Houston, including medical, training, science, contracting, public affairs, and administration departments. He was also responsible for liaison duties between NASA and the Russian Space Agency, as well as the Russian aerospace industry.

Col. Wheelock is qualified to fly aboard the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. He has completed qualification in the Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Skills program, the Canadian Space Agency MSS Robotics Operator (MRO) course, and qualification as a Cosmonaut Flight Engineer in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. In July 2004, Colonel Wheelock completed training in the NASA Extreme Environments Mission Operations program, during a 10-day undersea mission aboard the National Undersea Research Center's Aquarius habitat.

Col. Wheelock is assigned to Space Shuttle mission STS-120, designated as flight 10A in the ISS assembly sequence. The crew will deliver the Italian-built Node 2 connecting module to the ISS, as well as relocate the P-6 truss segment to allow for future ISS expansion and increased power generation. Col. Wheelock will conduct both EVA and robotics operations during the mission's three scheduled spacewalks.

Col. Wheelock was born May 5, 1960 in Binghamton, New York and considers Windsor, New York to be his hometown. His parents, Olin and Margaret Wheelock, reside in upstate New York. He graduated from Windsor Central High School, Windsor, New York, in 1978. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Science and Engineering from the United States Military Academy, West Point in 1983, and a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1992.