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Local Astronaut Set to Blast Off Into Space

— An astronaut raised in Lakeside will be at the helm of the shuttle Discovery when it blasts off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in two weeks, it was announced today.

Rick Sturckow, a veteran of three previous space flights, will command Discovery's 13-day mission to the International Space Station, according to NASA.

Sturckow was born Aug. 11, 1961 and raised on a farm near Lakeside, according to NASA. He graduated from Grossmont High School in La Mesa in 1978 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from California Polytechnic State University in 1984.

Before joining NASA, he flew 41 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm while in the U.S. Navy.

During the upcoming shuttle flight, the seven-member crew of Discovery will deliver to the space station science and storage racks, a freezer to store research samples and a new sleeping compartment.

It will also carry a treadmill named after comedian Stephen Colbert, from television's "The Colbert Report." Colbert received the most entries in an online poll to name the space station's "Node 3," but NASA instead opted to call it Tranquility.

Discovery is scheduled to launch Aug. 25 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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