CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (CBS) – When the Space Shuttle Discovery lifts off on its final mission Thursday night, South Shore native Steve Bowen will be flying into space for the third time. But it was not part of the original plan.

While most astronauts spend a year or more preparing for a space flight, Bowen only learned last month that he would be part of the crew. He is taking over for a crew member who was injured in a bicycle accident, and will become the first astronaut ever to fly on consecutive Space Shuttle missions.

“My recent experience having flown in the previous year or so, that does help as far as the, how to function on a shuttle,” Bowen said in a pre-flight interview with NASA. “I’m fortunately flying with four classmates of mine as well.”

Steve Bowen grew up in Cohasset with his five brothers and sisters; he graduated from Cohasset High School in 1982 and remembers his time in Massachusetts fondly.

“I spent a lot of my time sailing and in the water and at the beach, and it’s a fantastic little town,” he said. “I went back up there just a couple months ago and talked to the schools I just enjoy the area a lot.”

“I have seen Cohasset from space and it’s just neat to look down,” Bowen said, “but, I can’t spot my house from space.”

At 45-years-old, the father of three is no stranger to space. He took his first flight into space in 2008 aboard the shuttle Endeavour, and flew last May on Atlantis. Bowen has 27 days in space and five spacewalks under his belt.

One of his favorite parts about space flight? “When you look outside and there’s no replacing the view. It’s that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year “Grand Canyon” moment, as we say, and that’s truly incredible.”

The Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to lift off from Florida at 4:50 p.m. After the eleven day mission, it will be retired from the NASA program.


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