The last space shuttle comes back later this week and it could be two or three years before another astronaut with Missouri ties goes back into space. The wheels of shuttle Atlantis are scheduled to stop rolling Wednesday, the end of its 33rd flight in 26 years, totaling 125-million miles—and the end of the shuttle program.

One of the four people on the crew is Dr. Sandra Magnus, who got her first two college degrees from the present Missouri University of Science and Technology.  In her three missions she will have spent about five months in space and traveled about 60-milion miles. On one of her missions she stayed aboard the station for four and a half months.

One of the challenges she and the other crew members will face is gravity. She says she went about two weeks getting tired in the late afternoons because she had not rebuilt her energy level to operate for a full day in gravity.

Recovery won’t take so long this time. The mission is only 13 days.  She’s not sure what her future will be with NASA, whether she’ll stick around to go back up to the space station or go on to something else.

The next Missourian scheduled for space is Lebanon native Michael Hopkins who’s in line to fly aboard a Russian spacecraft to the space station in 2013 or 2014.

Listen to interview with Dr. Magnus 4:03