Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

WAITING FOR ATLANTIS; Astronaut's Kin Await Relief of a Landing the Shuttle Commander's Siblings Are Proud, but a Bit Anxious to See Him Safe

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

WAITING FOR ATLANTIS; Astronaut's Kin Await Relief of a Landing the Shuttle Commander's Siblings Are Proud, but a Bit Anxious to See Him Safe

Article excerpt

Byline: GREGORY PIATT

The Jacksonville siblings of space shuttle commander Brent Jett will feel a lot better today, once Atlantis touches down at Kennedy Space Center and their brother has his feet planted on the ground.

Even though this is their brother's fourth space mission, Richard Jett and Julie Crews always are a bit worried about the takeoff and the landings. But they are confident in the six-member crew's abilities and those of NASA workers, they said Wednesday.

"We are aware of the risk," said Crews, 49, the astronaut's older sister.

"Yeah, it concerns me, but usually it isn't as bad as it sounds in the media," said Richard Jett, the 41-year-old younger brother of the astronaut and Navy captain.

The shuttle's astronauts on Wednesday completed two inspections of Atlantis to make sure it wasn't damaged from the mysterious objects found floating outside the spacecraft.

NASA officials were concerned about Atlantis' heat shield because damage to the Columbia's shield led to its 2003 demise on re-entry. Atlantis' mission is the second shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster.

The inspections of the shuttle's wings and nose cap postponed Wednesday's landing. The shuttle's touchdown was expected this morning, at either 6:21 a.m. or 7:57 a.m.

''We're just pretty optimistic about getting into Kennedy [either Thursday or Friday], so that's encouraging,'' Brent Jett radioed Mission Control, according to The Associated Press.

Jett told his younger brother after the Columbia's crew perished three years ago that space travelers know the risks, but every astronaut would go up tomorrow for the chance to be in space, despite the tragedy, Richard Jett said.

The family will be on hand at Kennedy Space Center for today's scheduled landing. If all goes like his previous missions, the family will get to see Jett, 47, about four or five hours after the spacecraft has landed, Richard Jett said.

He said talks with his brother aren't as filled with amazement or excitement as they were when he returned from his first mission a decade ago. …

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