Col. Susan J. Helms, a NASA astronaut since 1991, is one of three astronauts scheduled to replace a three-man crew aboard the space station during the mission. The mission will mark the first crew exchange for the space station. Helms along with astronaut James Voss and cosmonaut Yury Usachev will replace commander Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev, who have been on the station since November.
During the mission, Helms, from Charlotte, N.C., will also participate in a space walk and assist in the continued construction of the international station. A U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, Helms has flown on four other space shuttle missions.
The Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 8, and is scheduled to dock with the space station March 10. Lt. Col. James Kelly, from Burlington, Iowa, is piloting the shuttle in his first space mission. Kelly is also a U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, and has logged more than 1,500 flight hours in more than 35 different aircraft. He has served as an F-15 Eagle training instructor and a test pilot, and was selected for astronaut training in April 1996. (Courtesy of NASA)