HOUSTON, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- NASA says a veteran astronaut, U.S. Navy Capt. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, has left the space agency to return to the Navy.
Stefanyshyn-Piper, a veteran of two space shuttle flights and five spacewalks, was selected as an astronaut in April 1996, NASA said. She flew on the STS-115 mission in 2006 and STS-126 in 2008, logging more than 27 days in space and more than 33 hours spacewalking.
The space agency said her flights to the International Space Station helped install a truss segment and expanded the living quarters for additional crew members to live aboard the ISS.
"Heide has been an outstanding astronaut, contributing significantly to the space shuttle and space station programs," said Steve Lindsey, chief of the NASA's astronaut office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "In particular, her superb leadership as lead spacewalker during the STS-126 mission resulted in restoring full power generation capability to the International Space Station. We wish her the best of luck back in the Navy -- she will be missed."