Phila. native to command Atlantis final mission
PHILADELPHIA - July 7, 2011 (WPVI) -- When space shuttle Atlantis lifts off for its final mission on Friday, a local man will be at the helm.
51-year-old Chris Ferguson will be the commander of the final shuttle mission in the 30-year program.
"I'm still pinching myself, I feel extremely fortunate and very lucky and very honored to be in this unique position," says Captain Chris Ferguson.
Chris grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and, according to close family and friends, did all the typical things a young boy does.
"He used to be an altar boy at Saint Martha's, he was a paper carrier, he did pumping of gas at the Mobil station down the corner," said family friend, Helen Konstance. "He was involved with PAL, he was Mayor of the Day, but humble through it all."
His history teacher and track coach at Archbishop Ryan High School says Chris had a great nature about him.
"He was a great student, good sense of humor, joked around, you know, just one of the guys," says Ed Ulmer.
At the end of each flight, the shuttle commander gives some final words to mission control.
Chris says he's still struggling with that, knowing that what he says this last time could be quoted forever.
"I don't think a night goes by where I don't think just what the perfect words will be," Chris said.
And while Chris takes on the mission of a lifetime, the people that know him best say their emotions are "out of this world".
"When I found out, I said, 'Oh my God! Chris is going to go up again and be the last; he's going to make history!'" said Ed.
"It's indescribable the pride that we feel for Chris," said Rich Konstance.
northeast philadelphia, pennsylvania, space shuttle, local/state, lisa thomas-laury
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