Civil Air Patrol member to pilot Space Shuttle Endeavour

Col. Eric Boe, STS-126 pilot and Civil Air Patrol member, wearing his launch-and-entry suit, heads for the Shuttle Training Aircraft to practice landings on the Shuttle Landing Facility's runway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA photo/Kim Shiflett)

Col. Eric Boe, STS-126 pilot and Civil Air Patrol member, wearing his launch-and-entry suit, heads for the Shuttle Training Aircraft to practice landings on the Shuttle Landing Facility's runway at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA photo/Kim Shiflett)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Air Force Col. Eric Boe, who is also a senior member of the Civil Air Patrol, will achieve what many dream of and few accomplish - the chance to travel into space. 

An astronaut with NASA, he will pilot the space shuttle Endeavour for mission STS-126, his first voyage into space.

Scheduled to launch Friday from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., the mission is being conducted in support of the International Space Station. The Endeavor will dock with the station and deliver supplies to support its expanding needs, including a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module.

"I'm very excited to go into space and get the opportunity to represent the nation," said Colonel Boe. "It's a great opportunity to see what it's like to go into space."

A former Georgia Wing cadet and current Florida Wing member, Colonel Boe said his involvement with CAP as a young man helped him achieve his career goals of becoming a fighter pilot and an astronaut. Colonel Boe, who soloed at age 16 at a flight encampment conducted by the Georgia Wing, credits his cadet experience for solidifying his desire to fly.

"That was my first real opportunity to fly an airplane by myself," he said. "CAP gave me that opportunity, and it really made a difference in the long term. It's always nice to have flown before you show up at pilot training."