Waterbury native Rick Mastracchio is a NASA astronaut and is headed back into space in November for a six month stay on the International Space Station. Mastracchio, Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and veteran cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin of the Russian Federal Space Agency, make up space station Expedition 38.
Mastracchio grew up in Waterbury, Conn., and graduated from the University of Connecticut. He holds master's degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Mastracchio worked as an engineer in the space industry before joining NASA in 1990 as an engineer in the Flight Crew Operations Directorate. Selected as an astronaut in 1996, he is a veteran of three spaceflights.
This will be Wakata's fourth flight into space and second long-duration mission on the station. In March 2014, he will become the first Japanese commander of the space station. The mission marks Tyurin's third long-duration stay on the space station.
Mastracchio has been sharing his mission training and preparations via Twitter. He's encouraged followers to join his training via the "Ride with Rick" monthly trivia question series. Winners will have their photos sent to space and photographed in orbit with Mastracchio.
The trio will launch in their Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 6. They are scheduled to return to Earth in May 2014.