A lot of children say they want to be an astronaut when they grow up, but a Waterbury native is really living the dream.
Rick Mastracchio, 40, is a crew member of the Discovery Space Shuttle and will soon be spacewalking on his third trip into outer space.
What makes this mission even more significant is that it will be the last of the space shuttle program and the end of era.
Mastracchio and the rest of the Discovery crew arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Friday. The shuttle is set to launch on Monday morning and the crew will embark on a 13-day mission to the International Space Station.
Mastracchio graduated from Crosby High School in Waterbury in 1978 and received a degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Connecticut. He worked for Hamilton Standard in Connecticut as an engineer in the system design group from 1982 to 1987, then moved to Houston, Texas to work for NASA at the Johnson Space Center.
His first space mission was in 2000 aboard the Shuttle Atlantis, the second came in 2007 as a crew member aboard the Endeavour. On his latest mission, Mastracchio will be the lead "spacewalker" on three scheduled walks. Crew members will be replacing an ammonia tank at the space station.
Discovery is scheduled to launch at 6:21 a.m. on Monday. It has been given an 80 percent "go."