Several months ago we were delighted to report that for the first time in NASA history, four MIT alums were scheduled to be in space at the same time. We saw some great photos from the missions, including a couple of alum Mike Fincke ’89. Well, we have more good news today: Last week, Fincke was joined by another alum, Dominic “Tony” Antonelli ’89. Antonelli launched on the space shuttle Discovery on March 15th as pilot of the STS-119 mission and docked with the International Space Station on March 17th.

Michael Fincke '89 (left), Expedition 18 commander; and Tony Antonelli '89, STS-119 pilot, look over procedures checklists in the Quest Airlock of the International Space Station while Space Shuttle Discovery remains docked with the station. Photo: NASA

Michael Fincke '89 (left) and Tony Antonelli '89 look over procedures checklists in the Quest Airlock of the International Space Station while Space Shuttle Discovery remains docked with the station. Photo: NASA

If that’s not enough to rouse your MIT pride, consider this: Kwatsi Alibaruho ’95 is the lead flight director for the STS-119 mission. Why is this such a big deal? Do the math—there are fewer mission control flight directors than NASA astronauts, and, perhaps more impressively, Alibaruho is the first ever African American NASA flight director.

Lead flight director Kwatsi Alibaruho monitors data at his console in the space station flight control room in the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center during the docking of the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Discovery during the STS-119 mission.

Lead flight director Kwatsi Alibaruho '95 monitors data at his console in the space station flight control room in the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center during the docking of the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Discovery during the STS-119 mission. Photo: NASA

Congratulations to Fincke, Antonelli, and Alibaruho!

For more MITAA space coverage, check out:
Space Exploration: 34 MIT Astronauts and Counting

Or visit the MIT Astronaut page, run by the MIT Club of South Texas: http://alumweb.mit.edu/clubs/s-texas/doc/Astro/AstroHome.htm

PS: Let’s see a close-up of those MIT hats!

Hat close-up