Masstronaut Rides A Historic Mission Into Space

Published February 24, 2011

At 4:53 p.m., the official launch time of space shuttle Discovery, Cohasset native Steve Bowen became the first astronaut ever to fly consecutive NASA missions in space.

Bowen last flew on Atlantis in May 2010. He wasn’t even supposed to be on board Thursday, but Mission Specialist Tim Kopra got injured in a bike accident six weeks ago.

Bowen graduated from Cohasset High School in 1982. “He was an outstanding student,” said Assistant Principal Michael Gill, who was a health teacher there at the time, in a WBUR interview. “I don’t know if anyone really knows exactly what they’re going to do when they’re in high school, but he had an idea he wanted science and math.”

Gill said the would-be astronaut was a goalie on Cohasset High’s hockey team and a good athlete, too. Bowen went on to earn a degree in ocean engineering from MIT in 1993.

Today’s was the 39th and final launch of Discovery, which has racked up 142,917,535 miles on the odometer. The shuttle will dock with the International Space Station to deliver spare parts.

In 1984 and 2005, Discovery was first to “return to flight,” in NASA parlance, after the Challenger and Columbia accidents, respectively.