Official NASA Portrait of Astronaut Mark Polansky
NASA EXPERIENCE: Polansky joined NASA in August 1992, as an aerospace engineer and research pilot. He was assigned to the Aircraft Operations Division of the Johnson Space Center. His primary responsibilities involved teaching the astronaut pilots Space Shuttle landing techniques in the Shuttle Trainer Aircraft and instructing astronaut pilots and mission specialists in the T-38 aircraft. Polansky also conducted flight testing of the NASA T-38 avionics upgrade aircraft.
Selected as an Astronaut Candidate by NASA in April 1996, Polansky began training in August 1996. Having completed two years of training and evaluation, he was initially assigned as a member of the Astronaut Support Personnel team at the Kennedy Space Center, supporting Space Shuttle launches and landings. Polansky also served as Chief of the CAPCOM Branch (April 2002 to December 2002), Chief Instructor Astronaut (April 2003 to January 2004) and Chief of the Return to Flight and Orbiter Repair Branches. Twice flown, Polansky has logged over 618 hours in space. He was the pilot on STS-98 and the mission commander on STS-116. Polansky is assigned to command the crew of shuttle Endeavour for STS-127, ISS Assembly Mission 2J/A, which will deliver the Japanese-built Exposed Facility (JEM-EF) and the Experiment Logistics Module Exposed Section (ELM-ES) to the International Space Station in June 2009.
SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-98 Atlantis (February 9-20, 2001). The STS-98 crew continued the task of building and enhancing the International Space Station by delivering the U.S. laboratory module Destiny. The Shuttle spent seven days docked to the station while Destiny was attached and three spacewalks were conducted to complete its assembly. The crew also relocated a docking port, and delivered supplies and equipment to the resident Expedition-1 crew. Mission duration was 12 days, 21 hours, 20 minutes.
STS-116 Discovery (December 9-22, 2006). The seven-member crew on this 12-day mission continued construction of the ISS outpost by adding the P5 spacer truss segment during the first of four spacewalks. The next two spacewalks rewired the station’s power system, preparing it to support the addition of European and Japanese science modules by future shuttle crews. The fourth spacewalk was added to allow the crew to coax and retract a stubborn solar panel to fold up accordion-style into its box. Discovery also delivered a new crew member and more than two tons of equipment and supplies to the station. Almost two tons of items no longer needed on the station returned to Earth with STS-116. Mission duration was 12 days, 20 hours and 45 minutes.