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Marine Col. Frederick "Rick" Sturckow has flown aboard the space shuttle three times already.
Life's been a blast for a local boy who's all grown up and ready to take the controls of the space shuttle Discovery later this month.
Marine Col. Frederick "Rick" Sturckow grew up on a farm in Lakeside and attended Grossmont High School in La Mesa, according to NASA officials. Six years after graduation, he added a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Polytechnic, and 10 years after that, he got the call from NASA after logging nearly 5,000 flight hours in 50 different aircraft.
Next up for the East County native: Sitting at the helm of the Discovery during blast-off at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which is scheduled for Aug. 25.
The trip to the international space station will be Sturckow's fourth visit to space. He has spent more than 900 hours in orbit.
"Discovery will carry a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science and storage racks to the station," according to NASA. "The mission will include two spacewalks to remove and replace a materials processing experiment outside ESA’s Columbus module and return an empty ammonia tank assembly. The mission will also exchange ISS crew members."
Also in the cargo hold on this trip: a treadmill named after comedian Stephen Colbert, who won an online poll to name the station's Node 3 -- scientists opted to name the room Tranquility instead but in the end called the exercise equipment a Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (get it? acronym-happy NASA scientists couldn't help themselves) as a compromise with the "Colbert Report" star.